An alarming security breach within South African defence intelligence has put suspected death squads on the trail of an exiled Rwandan general who is under South African protection.
It was reaveled that private investigators, allegedly hired by Rwandan intelligence agents, penetrated the security ring around Rwanda’s former chief-of-staff General Kayumba Nyamwasa.
Nyamwasa has been in exile in South Africa since February last year and has already survived two assassination attempts – one when he was shot in the stomach four months after arriving in this country. Then his would-be assassins plotted to strangle him in hospital, and the plots continued.
Some media houses have an email and pictures of Nyamwasa’s secret safe house that were sent to an alleged Rwandan agent who was hiring gunmen to assassinate Nyamwasa. In the email, the agent was ordered to use “big machines” and “when you enter the house finish everything you find inside”.
The email also gave details of the safe house in the village of Hartebeeshoek near Hartebeespoortdam in North West.
City Press confirmed the authenticity of the email, the plot to kill Nyamwasa with senior intelligence officials, and that Nyamwasa was kept at the house. After our inquiries, Nyamwasa was hastily moved.
Nyamwasa was recently instrumental in setting up a new political movement, the Rwandan National Congress (RNC), which posed the biggest threat to Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s 11 years of authoritarian rule. Nyamwasa was wanted for various crimes in Rwanda and was sentenced to 24 years in prison in absentia.
National Intelligence Agency (NIA) officials were tracking Rwandan death squads sent to assassinate him, although the Rwandan government adamantly denied involvement.
“Our government doesn’t have a policy to assassinate people,” said Didier Rutembesa, a spokesperson for the Rwandan High Commission in Pretoria. “We cannot be intimidated by sensational publications.”
The activities soured diplomatic relations between Pretoria and Kigali. South Africa recalled its high commissioner in Rwanda more than a year ago and had not yet returned him to Kigali.
City Press pieced together how Rwandan intelligence – widely credited with assassinations in several African countries – traced the whereabouts of Nyamwasa.
A small group of Rwandan agents entered South Africa in May under cover of being representatives of a Rwandan bank.
They approached private investigators to trace Nyamwasa. They said he owed the bank millions and that he was also wanted in Rwanda for fraud.
When Nyamwasa arrived under military escort at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court at the end of June to testify in the attempted murder case, the investigators were onto him.
They followed him from the court building to his safe house in Hartebeeshoek. His escort never picked up the tail.
Once the investigators established his address, they persuaded or bribed a member of the house staff to provide them with information of what the house looked like inside.
The investigators provided the information and photographs to their Rwanda clients, who monitored the general’s movements.
By then, the investigators knew who Nyamwasa was and became suspicious of who had hired them. They tipped off the NIA. The NIA intercepted the email when it was sent to a Rwandan agent in Pretoria. He was briefly detained and questioned, and co-operated.
City Press understood that the email was also sent to a diplomat at the Rwandan High Commission.
A senior member of the RNC in South Africa and a close confidant of Nyamwasa, Emile Rutagengwa, said Rwandan intelligence services would “stop at nothing” to kill the general.
Rutagengwa said he was warned by NIA to be careful and, if possible, to change cars and find new accommodation.
Another former Kagame confidant in exile in South Africa is under military protection. He is Colonel Patrick Karegeya, the former director of Rwanda’s external military intelligence. He was also a founder member of the RNC.
The NIA, department of international relations and defence intelligence did not respond to requests for comment.
- City Press