South Africa vs US Ambassador Over Russian Weaponry Ship
13 May 2023
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“South Africa cannot be bullied by the United States.”

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, a minister in the Presidency, responded in this way to claims made by the US administration that the Russian ship Lady R was carrying armaments while stationed at the Simon’s Town naval facility.

The minister said the following in an interview with the SABC on Friday:

“The ambassador has not followed diplomatic channels in terms of dealing with issues in South Africa and this is not the first time this has happened.”

Ntshavheni slammed US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety’s “megaphone diplomacy” approach of addressing the media in Pretoria on Thursday when he said Washington had established the vessel was loaded with weapons while docked at the naval base.

“It doesn’t work. If the US has concerns about anything in South Africa, they are allowed to raise them — but the channel they need to contact is Dirco [the department of international relations and co-operation] to say these are the issues they have problems with, because we have a relationship with the US.”

US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety has apologised “unreservedly” after he admitted to “crossing the line” at a briefing he held on Thursday.

This is according to the department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) which in a diplomatic démarche on Friday expressed the government’s “utter displeasure” with Brigety’s “conduct and statements”.

Brigety stirred up controversy on Thursday when he informed reporters that a Russian ship that had berthed at the naval base in Simon’s Town had left South Africa carrying weapons.

Additionally, he claimed that Washington had confirmed the ship was armed when it was parked at the naval facility in December.

While in South African seas, the ship engaged in controversial acts, and Pretoria remained mute about them.

Locals were outraged by Brigety’s remarks, and issues were expressed regarding the way he chose to express these worries.