Russian Cargo Vessel Arrested In South Africa Under “Weapons Of Mass Destruction” Statute For Improper Permits

Update: South African Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said during a Monday briefing that while the ship was arrested, however it was carrying industrial mining explosives, according to Russian state news agency Tass

Earlier, the Russian embassy in Pretoria stated that South African port authorities detained the vessel on August 23 because they did not have a permit to carry industrial explosives on board.

A representative for the ship’s owner company Transflot informed TASS that the cargo is transferred in containers, and the crew obtained the permit for transportation of dangerous cargo from US officials. –Tass

South African authorities at the Port of Ngqura reportedly discovered explosives aboard a Russian cargo ship last week and booked under a statute related to Weapons of Mass Destruction, according to Herald Live. The cargo was headed to Lagos, Nigeria and the United States, and was discovered following an anonymous tipoff. The ship’s owner has refuted the claim, according to Russian news agency Tass

Russian Cargo Vessel Arrested In South Africa Under "Weapons Of Mass Destruction" Statute For Improper Permits

According to an official who declined to be named, 14 of the 34 containers onboard had proper permits, while another 20 containers were found to contain allegedly illegal materials. A criminal investigation was opened for “allegedly flouting regulations under the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction act” and the Explosives Act following the tipoff, reports the Herald, while the actual explosives were discovered by the nearby Port Elizabeth Explosives Unit. 

No information was given as to the type of ordnance found, or why they constitute “weapons of mass destruction.” 

the Russian vessel, the Lada, docked to offload 14 containers – with the correct permits – which had been dispatched to SA.

However, 20 other containers found on board are allegedly illegal.

The official said that the vessel did not have permits for the other 20 containers, some of which were destined for Lagos in Nigeria and others for the United States. –Herald

“The ship docked and it was established that 14 of the containers had permits for offloading in South Africa,” said an official who declined to be named, adding “After suspicions were raised, police checked the other containers and found a further 20 containers carrying explosives and components.” 

The 14 permitted containers destined for South Africa were dispatched by a company called Solar India, while the source of the 20 illegal containers is unknown. Port of Ngqura manager Tandi Lebankeng said that the Lada‘s last port of call was Tulear, Madagascar and that it was heading to Lagos, Nigeria next. 

“We are aware that she has dangerous cargo on board,” Lebakeng said. “She is detained by police within port limits, although she is anchored outside the port.” –Herald

Once police discovered the illegal cargo – valued at over $700,000 USD, the Lada was placed under arrest by police and set to anchor around 9 miles offshore. 

The vessel is effectively sitting in Algoa Bay loaded with explosives,” said the official. 

Russian Cargo Vessel Arrested In South Africa Under "Weapons Of Mass Destruction" Statute For Improper Permits
A map showing the Lada’s whereabouts in the Bay 
Image: Supplied by

SA Navy spokesperson Commander Greyling van den Berg said that the matter remained a police and customs issue unless assistance was needed from the SA National Defence Force.

We are on standby as usual and should assistance be needed, we will be alerted.

The only scenario we will get involved in is if the vessel tries to flee,” he said. –Herald

The South African Police Service (SAPS) have registered the ship’s docket under the permits section of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act. Russia’s Tass news agency reports that the ship’s owner based in St. Petersberg has refuted reports that the vessel was arrested, and has said that it did not contain “hazardous cargo.”

The company highlighted that the “cargo aboard the vessel is legal” and that the US authorities granted a permission for its delivery to the ship owner. –Tass

(h/t Troy Ounce)
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