Rwandan’s death is sinister

Johannesburg – At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda a horrified missionary was famously reported as exclaiming there were devils left in hell and they had all gone to Rwanda.

The political legacy of that horror now appears to have moved to greater Johannesburg, as came into focus this week with the apparent assassination of shadowy former Rwandan spymaster ex-Colonel Patrick Karegeya in lurid circumstances in a room in Sandton’s top-end Michelangelo Towers Hotel.

Though the one-time head of Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame’s sinister external intelligence operation was apparently strangled – a bloodied towel and curtain cord were discovered in the hotel room’s safe together with the lifeless body on New Year’s Day – detectives were also investigating the possibility he had been drugged before the actual commission of the murder.

While the South African government has yet to point a finger of blame at Kagame’s government and officially continues to investigate the killing as an ordinary and not political murder, details that have come to light around Karegeya’s last hours strongly suggest a connection with the Rwandan regime.

According to Karegeya’s political associates, at the time of his death Karegeya had been in the company of a Rwandan national, a businessman called Appolo Kiririsi Gafaranga. A figure with a chequered history – a poly-linguist and dealer in grey weapons, and also drug trafficker convicted under UK law – Kiririsi had apparently convinced Karegeya of his bona fides as a fellow conspirator against Kagame’s authoritarian rule.

Though as yet no evidence has come to light of the presence of accomplices in the murder, Karegeya’s close associate and controversial fellow Rwandan dissident and former army chief General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa has said there was evidence that “no less than three or four men” had been present at the killing.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, left, and his army chief of staff Maj. General Kayumba Nyamwisa consult their watches soon after addressing the first contingent of a Rwandan battalion who were pulled out of Congo at Kigali, the Rwandan capital in this file picture. (AP Photo/Rodrique NgowiI)

AP

Rwanda has emphatically denied any involvement in the murder.

The country’s high commissioner to South Africa, Vincent Karega, this week told sister paper, The Star, it did not make sense to blame his government for Karegeya’s death.

“Why would we have waited six years?” Karega asked, referring to the years Karegeya had stayed in South Africa.

Meanwhile allegations have surfaced in intelligence circles of a series of high-level meetings in the area of Gikondo in Rwanda late last year – including a briefing by Kagame himself on December 20 – at which the assignation was apparently planned and directed. Involving a hand-picked group of close Kagame associates, including members of his immediate family, the claimed killing network is allegedly co-ordinated by the head of Kagame’s military intelligence, Jack Nziza, and has been linked in the past to several kidnappings and attempted assassinations both inside Rwanda and in other African states, notably Kenya and Tanzania.

The dissident exile publication Ikaze Iwacu goes so far as to name the alleged six-man hit squad dispatched from Kigali to back up Kiririsi on his mission.

The same general network has been linked to two attempted assassinations on Nyamwasa in South Africa in 2010. In the same year, Karegeya – who had been living in exile in South Africa since fleeing Rwanda in 2007 – together with Nyamwasa and two other prominent former Kagame insiders established the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) in Johannesburg as an opposition in exile to their former political master.

17\03\06 Michelangelo tower in Sandton.Pic:Mike Dibetsoe 493

INLSA

Two men arrested in connection with the attempted assassinations will appear in court later this month. In the wake of the attempted assassinations and the ongoing refusal of the government to accede to Rwandan demands that the dissidents be extradited to face Rwandan justice after being convicted in absentia, diplomatic relations descended to an all-time low with the recall of South Africa’s ambassador to the Great Lakes country. More recently, South Africa emerged as a major driving force on the African stage in the deployment under the UN banner of a peace-keeping mission in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo with an unprecedented mandate to use force against militants threatening stability in the region. Especially targeted by the highly effective UN intervention force – whose major military asset emerged as the South African Rooivalk helicopter gunship – was the M23 rebel grouping. Though Rwanda continues to deny any involvement in M23, observers as well as UN analysts have consistently linked the insurgency to Kagame’s expansionist ambitions.

For its part, the Kagame administration – which, despite mounting evidence of human rights abuses and Machiavellian intrigue, presides over a strongly performing economy – accuses South Africa of meddling in its internal affairs and sponsoring its enemies. The claim is backed up by the fact that until 2011, Karegeya was under official South African protection and quietly furnished with political asylum. In the fallout from the 2010 assassination attempts, Nyamwasa continues to fall under the protection of the South African security apparatus, and no action has been taken against the RNC since its formation.

The International Crisis Group said Karegeya’s killing raised more questions on the safety of exiled Rwandese. The group’s Piers Pigou said South Africa and Rwanda “should engage” on the attacks.

“All we hear from the Rwanda government is denials and more denials. But there seems to be a pattern of attempts on lives of Rwandese in exile,” Pigou said.

In the meantime, the official protest against the dissident grouping has been strengthened by reports of links between the RNC and Hutu billionaires and other fugitive power-players linked to the Hutu genocide of Tutsis in the 1994 horrors.

In offering shelter to the Rwandan dissidents, South Africa also appears to be playing host to what seems a deeply sinister spook culture. The role attributed by Kagame’s critics to Jack Nziza was pioneered by Karegeya in his position as head of Rwanda’s external intelligence – co-ordinating cross-border kidnappings and alleged assassinations, before falling out with the Tutsi strongman in 2006 and serving an 18-month sentence in prison before his South African exile.

In 2011, a curious report appeared in the Burundian press around the death in Johannesburg of Rwandan singer Jean Christophe Matata on a concert tour in Johannesburg. Though no foul play was reported at the time, an unnamed woman said the death had followed a sequence of events springing from a sexual triangle with Karegeya as the third point of reference.

As she narrated it, she had revived, on a clandestine basis, a long-standing relationship with the singer, while at the same time offering sexual favours to Karegeya, whom she described as her “Boss” since he paid her for sex.

Thinking her dalliance with Matata was unknown, she went to see Karegeya, who confronted her with details of the illicit affair. He then proceeded, she says, to say he suspected Matata had been sent as a spy by Kagame to infiltrate his networks, and he was looking to access evidence to this effect.

At this point, she claims, he tasked her with slipping a drug (which he provided) into the singer’s drink at their next meeting, which would knock him out and allow for his baggage to be searched while he slept.

This, the woman claims, she did and Karegeya’s agents duly searched Matata’s effects. The plan, as she understood it, however, went awry when the singer never recovered from the sleeping draught, finally booking himself into hospital in Johannesburg where he breathed his last.

Hawks spokesman, Paul Ramaloko, could not be reached for comment yesterday. But on Friday he told the media the hunt for the killer of Karegeya was continuing. – The Sunday Independent

January 5 2014 at 11:55am

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Patrick Karegeya: Rwanda exile ‘murdered’ in Johannesburg

Patrick Karegeya formed an opposition party in 2010

Exiled former Rwandan intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya has been apparently murdered in a Johannesburg hotel room, South African police say.

They say the dissident might have been strangled, with a rope and bloodied towel found in the hotel room safe.

Mr Karegeya was stripped of the rank of colonel after falling out with his former ally, President Paul Kagame.

President Kagame’s allies have previously denied accusations of links to a series of dissident attacks.

Mr Karegeya, 53, formerly head of Rwanda’s foreign intelligence service, had lived for the past six years in South Africa, where he had been granted political asylum.

Ex-general Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa: “He must have been strangled”

A fellow exiled dissident, former army chief Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, has survived two assassination attempts since fleeing to South Africa in 2010.
Critics of Rwandan President Paul Kagame tend to flee the country as soon as they fall out with him because they fear it is too dangerous to stay.

But many have met mysterious deaths abroad, although the president and his allies have always denied any responsibility.

Rwanda’s first post-genocide Interior Minister, Seth Sendashonga, was shot dead in Nairobi shortly after resigning in 1996, leading to a diplomatic row between Kenya and Rwanda. The Metropolitan Police has warned two dissidents based in London of threats to kill them. And there were two attempts to kill former army chief Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa in South Africa.

The apparent murder of Patrick Karegeya, also in South Africa, will make Rwandan dissidents feel even less safe. His death is a big blow to the opposition party he founded, the Rwanda National Congress. But it also has the potential to be a huge embarrassment for President Kagame.

The pair formed a new opposition party – the Rwanda National Congress – in 2010.

Gen Nyamwasa told the BBC that Mr Karegeya had gone to the upmarket Michelangelo Towers hotel to meet “somebody he knew very well, somebody who had come from Kigali”.

He accused the Rwandan government of being behind the killing.

Rwanda’s ambassador to South Africa, Vincent Karega, dismissed this as an “emotional reaction and opportunistic way of playing politics”, reports The Associated Press news agency.

“We encourage the authorities to really look into the matter so that we know exactly what happened,” the Reuters news agency quotes him as telling local radio.

A police statement on Mr Karegeya’s death said: “Preliminary investigations revealed that his neck [was] swollen – there is a possibility that he might have been strangled.”

He leaves a widow and three children.

Rwandan exiles in several Western countries including the UK and US say local security agents have warned them of plots to kill them.

The Rwandan government has denied trying to kill its opponents.

Mr Karegeya and Gen Nyamwasa were among four exiled former top officials for whom Rwanda issued international arrest warrants in 2011.

A military court earlier sentenced them to long jail terms in absentia for threatening state security and promoting ethnic divisions.

Both men were part of Mr Kagame’s rebel forces which came to power in 1994, ending the genocide of their fellow ethnic Tutsis.

Mr Kagame has been accused of not tolerating opposition.

He maintains that Rwanda needs a strong government to prevent a return to ethnic conflict.

2 January 2014 Last updated at 09:07 ET

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Slain ex-spy scrapped SA security detail

Patrick Karegeya,Rwanda’s former spy chief, who was found dead, possibly strangled, in a hotel in Joburg.

Johannesburg – Rwanda’s murdered ex-intelligence chief agreed to scrap his South African security detail before he was strangled to death in a Johannesburg hotel room, according to a political ally.

Patrick Karegeya, 53, was discovered slumped on a bed by staff at the hotel on New Year’s Day, prompting accusations that Rwandan President Paul Kagame had ordered a hit.

Karegeya was the former head of Rwanda’s external intelligence service and once a close ally of Kagame. But after a decade spent as the gatekeeper to Rwanda’s foreign intelligence network he fell out of favour.

In 2007 he fled into exile in South Africa, where he became a fierce critic, describing Kagame as a dictator and alleging he had first-hand knowledge of the state killing of Rwandan dissidents abroad.

“When Karageya first entered this country… the South African government put him under state protection,” political ally Frank Ntwali told AFP late Thursday.

The decision was influenced by assassination attempts against former army chief of staff Kayumba Nyamwasa, another Rwandan exile in South Africa, according to Ntwali.

But in 2012 Karageya and the South African government had agreed to end the close protection, said Ntwali, who heads the Rwanda National Congress in Africa

“They agreed that they would allow him to walk without bodyguards or without protection, which has turned out to be a miscalculation,” said Ntwali.

“He was on his own,” he said.

Ntwali said his friend had expressed fears for his safety, but after years in South Africa became comfortable.

“He knew that his life definitely was in danger… that’s why he fled Rwanda, but I think he got to a level where he thought that here he would be able to evade them.”

In a last ill-fated meeting, Karageya had visited Johannesburg’s luxurious Michelangelo Towers hotel to talk with a man Ntwali named as a Rwandan national.

“This individual… was claiming to be running away as well from the regime of the Rwanda. He was claiming harassment, detention, expropriation of his properties.”

South African police did not respond to inquiries about the identity of the man. – AFP

January 3 2014 at 03:59pm

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