The Department of Justice was investigating whether South Africa should consider an extradition request for former Rwandan army chief of staff, General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.
Justice department spokespersn Tlali Tlali said on Tuesday that Nyamwasa was granted asylum in South Africa, and the ministry was consulting the law to assess whether the country could extradite a person who had been granted asylum.
“One of the issues we need to verify is what the law provides for where an extradition request is made in respect of an individual or individuals who were granted asylum,” said Tlali.
Nyamwasa was wounded when he was gunned down in front of his house in the luxury Melrose Arch estate in Johannesburg on Saturday. Six men had been arrested for the attack, which Nyamwasa’s wife, Rosette, called an assassination attempt.
Tlali confirmed the Rwandan government had made an extradition request to the South African government. He said while South Africa does not have an extradition treaty with Rwanda, such a request could still be considered.
“South Africa is able to consider an extradition request even where no extradition treaty is in place. The Extradition Act provides a mechanism where requests can be considered where there is no treaty in place.” He said no decision on whether to extradite the general had been taken yet, as there were still various processes that needed to be examined.
“Ordinarily, in cases where a request is made for a person who does not have asylum, part of the processes involve taking the matter to a court inquiry to see whether or not the person for whom the extradition is requested has committed an extraditable offence,” said Tlali.
Accusations of destabilising Rwanda
Nyamwasa, who came to South Africa in February, had been accused in his home country of trying to destabilise Rwanda while he was in the country and while he was in India, where he recently served as Rwanda’s ambassador. He was also allegedly linked to three grenade attacks in Rwanda’s capital in February.
The attacks in central Kigali reportedly killed one person and injured 30. After his shooting on Saturday night his wife Rosette said the Rwandan government had attempted to assassinate him.
“I think it was our government, [Paul] Kagame our president … He said in Parliament that he would follow my husband and shoot him.” Nyamwasa had accused Kagame of corruption and claimed that the judiciary was compromised.
Tlali said he had no knowledge of any international warrant of arrest for Nyamwasa, and the general was not under any kind of arrest in South Africa. “We need to double-check to satisfy ourselves whether any form of legal proceedings, criminal or otherwise, can be taken against a person who has asylum and whether his status renders him immune to it,” said Tlali.
Nyamwasa’s wife said on Tuesday night the general, who was shot in the stomach, was at home after being discharged from hospital and doing “fine”. — Sapa