[imagesource: Wikimedia / Anton Bannikov]
The ANC has outright refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is pretty embarrassing for us on a global scale.
Given how cosy the relationship between the government of the two countries appears to be, it’s not surprising that there was consternation when a Russian cargo plane was spotted jetting off from Cape Town International Airport on Friday night.
What was aboard the plane? Why was it here? Have they done South Africa a favour and finally taken away Fikile Mbalula?
Sadly, it’s a no on the final question, although News24’s investigation has revealed that it wasn’t here for anything nefarious:
The Russian cargo aircraft… which got tongues wagging over what it was doing in South Africa, is one of the aircraft leased to Antarctica research stations for flying passengers and logistics.
News24 could establish from aviation sources that the aircraft did not upload any suspicious cargo and that, apart from equipment used for Antarctica operations, it departed empty.
The aircraft flew across Africa to Cairo in Egypt, from where it was suspected to depart on Saturday night to Russia.
The Ilyushin 76-TD-90VD belongs to the Volga-Dnepr Group in Russia, which has been hit hard by global sanctions.
Between November and February, the Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI) operates from Cape Town and flights to the main ice mass forming Antarctica can take place.
Saw this Russian Cargo plane at Cape Town Airport, wonder what they were loading? 😳#russiancargoplane #russianplane pic.twitter.com/bYuLWAOMY0
— garnett (@GarnettSnyman) March 21, 2022
Dr Vasily Kaliazin, who registered ACLI in 1992, spoke with News24:
[He said] the Ilyushin 76 finished its last Antarctica flights towards the end of February. It was scheduled for another flight to Asia, but that was cancelled after Russia invaded Ukraine…
Since the invasion, the aircraft and crew have been waiting in Cape Town for Volga-Dnepr to decide on its operations.
So no, there wasn’t some clandestine funny business going on at Cape Town International.
Although it’s fair to ask the question given how much our politicians, and especially deputy president David Mabuza, love a visit to Russia.
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