Mayor requests for Russian superyacht to be denied entry to Cape Town port

Cape Town Mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis has written to the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, requesting her intervention to block the entry of a vessel — owned and sailed by Mr Alexey Mordashov, and bound for Cape Town — into the Republic. Mordashov is a Russian billionaire close to President Vladimir Putin.

South Africa has a moral duty to do what it can to protest unjust war, state terrorism, and the gross violation of human rights. We must stand up against expansionist imperialism wherever it rears its ugly head. This is especially so, in light of our country’s own painful history of imperialism,” Hill-Lewis wrote.

A R9 billion superyacht belonging to Russian oligarch Alexey Mordashov departed Hong Kong last week, bound for Cape Town. Mr Mordashov is aboard the vessel and intends to enter South Africa through the port of Cape Town.

“If this happens, Mr Mordashov — and his luxury yacht — will be considered to be guests of the South African state”.

The international community has recognised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its annexation of four areas of Ukrainian territory by force as illegal. Clear evidence exists for war crimes and crimes against humanity having been committed by the Russian state against the Ukrainian people, including deliberate attacks against civilian targets, massacres of civilians, torture, and the rape of women and children. Many thousands of people have died and many more have had their homes destroyed and lives torn apart.

Mr Mordashov is the main shareholder and chairman of Severstal, Russia’s biggest steel company. The steel industry is of key strategic significance to the Government of Russia and of the Russian war effort. Mr Mordashov is also chairman of the company Severgroup, which is a major shareholder of Bank Rossiya, of which he personally owns a considerable share. Following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, Bank Rossiya expanded aggressively into the region, opening branches in both Crimea and Sevastopol, forcing the economic integration of Ukrainian territory into Russia. Accordingly, Mr Mordashov has personally derived financial benefit from illegal activities.

Severgroup also owns a large share of the National Media Group, which controls several Russian television stations which broadcast Russian propaganda and actively promote the Russian government’s actions in Ukraine. In this way, again, Mr Mordashov has helped to support activities which undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and is an accomplice to the unconscionable crimes committed against Ukrainian civilians.

The founding provisions of our Constitution state our nation’s commitment to human dignity and the advancement of human rights and freedoms. To welcome an accomplice to state terrorism against innocent people to our shores as a guest would be a violation of these values. If Mr Mordashov is allowed to dock and enter, I believe this is something of which we will come not only to feel ashamed as a matter of our own morality, but it will also lower our reputation and standing amongst the peace-loving nations of the world”, said Hill-Lewis.

He continued: “The National Government has a duty to nurture our country’s standing in the international community and uphold our obligations to other nations. It must be said that so far, our country’s foreign policy conduct in relation to Russia’s illegal, imperialist war has been nothing less than shameful. Here is an opportunity to correct some of those errors of judgement and stand up for what is clearly right. I call on Minister Pandor, therefore, to bar Mr Mordashov’s docking in Cape Town and his entry into the Republic. In the words of the father of our nation, the late President Mandela, “Do not look the other way; do not hesitate. Recognise that the world is hungry for action, not words. Act with courage and vision.”

The 465 foot (141-metre) multi-deck Nord – has two helipads, a swimming pool and 20 cabins. The Presidency has since said it will not be stopping the superyacht from docking in Cape Town this week.


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