WATCH | No sign of the Lady R vessel in Simon's Town, SA Navy, SANDF still mum over cargo ship

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  • There is still no clarity on why a sanctioned Russian cargo ship docked at the Simon's Town Naval Base this week.
  • On Friday morning, the ship left the harbour, mysteriously disappearing once again.
  • Local construction workers said they noticed people offloading the ship.

The chief of the SA Navy, Vice Admiral Monde Lobese, has backtracked on an undertaking from the navy to reveal details on why a sanctioned Russian ship docked at Simon's Town Navy Base on Tuesday.

The navy vowed to release details about the mysterious cargo ship on Friday following the graduation ceremony of 38 junior officers at Gordon's Bay Navy Base.

Naval public relations officer Captain Sam Khasuli told News 24 that Lobese would not be addressing the media as he was waiting on the go ahead from Defence Minister Thandi Modise. 

"There is a possibility that the minister would release a statement by close of business," Khasuli told News24. 

Approached for comment, Modise's spokesperson, Siphiwe Dlamini, was also unable to provide any answers.

When News24 visited the harbour in Simon's Town, there was no sign of the Lady R, but according to an eyewitness, the "long red ship left very quietly during the early morning hours on Friday".

A group of construction workers in Pine Road, Simon's Town, who had a bird's eye view of the harbour, said they saw people offloading equipment from the ship on Thursday afternoon and late into the evening. 

ship
The SA Navy base in Simons Town where the ship docked.
Aljoscha Kohlstock

"Last night while we were leaving the construction site at around 19:00, there was still lots of people offloading what looked like crates and boxes onto the harbour," a witness claimed.

"We thought it was normal what they were doing until we read in the news that the ship is actually from the war country of Russia," another witness added. 

According to the men, when they arrived at work on Friday at 05:30 the ship was gone. 

"There was no sign of any rushing from the men and women who were offloading the stuff. I'm sure I saw some of them dancing as they passed boxes over to people from the ship onto the harbour. Eish, I wonder what they were delivering and why they left so soon though," a witness said. 

ship
Construction workers told News24 boxes and crates were being off loaded on the ship.
Aljoscha Kohlstock

Meanwhile, nearby fisherman joked that maybe the ship docked to help the country out with equipment to help Eskom's load shedding crises, while others claimed it could have been dropping off equipment for the Koeberg nuclear power station.  

While locals speculated about why the ship had docked at Simon's Town, SA National Defence Force spokesperson Brigadier-General Andries Mahapa said Modise would release a statement by no later than Saturday.


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