South Africa’s main opposition party on Thursday called on the government to explain why a Russian cargo ship targeted by Western sanctions is docked at a naval base in Cape Town.
The cargo ship arrived at the country’s largest naval base at Simon’s Town on Tuesday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) party said, adding that it appeared to have turned off its automatic identification system which, among other things, gives position.
At night, cranes unloaded the boat’s cargo onto trucks protected by armed personnel, he added.
“This behaviour has worried local residents because the boat is under sanctions from the United States and the European Union following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said Kobus Marais in a statement.
South Africa did not take sides after Russia invaded Ukraine last February, a war that triggered sweeping Western sanctions.
Kobus Marais urged the Minister of Defense to explain why the ship docked in a military port rather than a commercial one and “why there is so much secrecy” surrounding this boat.
The Department of Defense and the Navy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ship, identified by local media as the Lady R, flies the Russian flag and is en route from Cameroon to Tanzania, according to ship tracking websites.
The South African government was already criticized in October for not refusing to allow a luxury megayacht linked to a sanctioned Russian oligarch, close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, to dock in territorial waters.
This “North” megayacht, whose value is estimated at 500 million dollars, did not finally dock as planned in the country.