The US has accused South Africa of providing ammunition to Russia through a Russian ship that docked at the Simon's Town naval base in Cape Town in December last year.
US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety said America was convinced that SA, despite the fact that it claims it takes a non-aligned stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, had supplied arms to Vladimir Putin’s army.
"Among the things we noted was the docking of the cargo ship in the Simon's Town naval base between 6th to 8th December, 2022, which we are confident uploaded weapons and ammunition onto that vessel in Simon's Town as it made its way back to Russia," said the ambassador.
Brigety told journalists that the US government took the matter seriously.
"The arming of the Russians is extremely serious, and we do not consider this issue to be resolved, and we would like SA to [start] practising its non-alignment policy," he said.
Brigety's spirited engagement with the media on Thursday follows his trip back to the US with a delegation of SA officials led by Sydney Mufamadi, who sought to ensure that South Africa did not fall foul of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).
On how accurate the US’s intelligence was that SA supplied ammunition to Russia, Brigety said he would bet his life on it.
The docking of the ship, Lady R, at the naval base in December caused speculation and concern. At the time, Brigety said he had formally written to Defence Minister Thandi Modise, who had lashed out at the US over its relationship with Africa.
He added that the other concerns raised by US officials with the SA delegations included the country’s participation in military exercises with Russia and China during the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.
"We expressed as well our serious concerns for the timing of the joint naval exercises that SA participated in with Russia and China in SA waters that coincided with the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine."