Lady R Arms Shipment

The public has the right to know if arms were loaded on to the Lady R and who will use these.


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Open Secrets has challenged both the South African Presidency and the US government to make public details of the mysterious cargo of the Russian vessel Lady R which docked in Simon’s Town in December 2022.

A sanctioned Russian ship docking in South Africa’s most important naval base rightly set off alarm bells. What was onboarded and was it destined for the war zone in Ukraine or any hot conflict in Africa? We need evidence to substantiate facts — on all sides.

South Africa has a legal commitment to ensure that weapons are not sold to actors who seek to undermine human rights. Any weapons sales to Russia at this time not only undermine South Africa’s stated policy of neutrality in the Ukraine war but would also suggest allyship with a violator of international human rights.

Challenging Secret Commission of Inquiry

Our Letter to the South African Presidency

On 05 June 2023 Open Secrets sent urgent correspondence to the South African Presidency requesting it to provide clarity on media reports that the independent inquiry into the Lady R arms shipment would take place in secret and without public access or engagement. In this letter we set out reasons why an open process is in the public interest.

Response from the Presidency's Law Advisor

A response from the Presidency in which the Principal Law Advisor, sets out the closed nature of the process.

Open Secrets Requests Public Access to the Process

08 June 2023 – Open Secrets writes to the Presidency with a set of clear questions regarding public access to the process.

14 June- Presidency responds

The Presidency responds confirming the limitations to access material

Challenging US Government to Release Evidence

Our Letter to Ambassador Brigety

On 02 June 2023 Open Secrets submitted Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to United States agencies who we believe should have information concerning the Lady R arms shipment to and from South Africa in December 2022. We have specifically requested access to information from the US State Department; Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); National Security Agency (NSA); and Defense Intelligence Agency. This letter was directed at US Ambassador Ruben Brigety who claimed to have evidence of a shipment of weapons from South Africa destined for Russia. Open Secrets believes that it is in the public interest that the US government and its embassy makes public such evidence given the overwhelming public interest in this matter.

Response from the National Security Agency (NSA)