SA’s government is negotiating the handover of alleged Rwandan war criminal and former general Kayumba Nyamwasa to a “neutral country”, sources confirmed yesterday.
The exiled Lt-Gen Nyamwasa is being protected by the government at an undisclosed location after an assassination attempt on his life in Johannesburg in June last year. In January he was sentenced to life imprisonment by Rwanda’s military court on charges of terrorism.
He also had outstanding warrants of arrests in Spain and France but France has since revoked this warrant. SA has refused to hand him over for prosecution, arguing that his life would be under threat in Rwanda. But sources said SA’s protection of the general was due to his role as a trusted link between the African National Congress and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni during the struggle against apartheid.
However, his continued stay in SA has outraged human rights groups, which argued that he played an active role in events that led to the genocide in Rwanda 17 years ago.
Last month a consortium of human rights groups filed a notice to challenge his asylum status. The Presidency and the departments of home affairs, justice and international relations were cited as respondents in the court application.
Rwanda has consistently denied claims that it hired foreign intelligence operatives to kill Lt-Gen Nyamwasa, and relations between Rwanda and SA are frosty. SA’s envoy to Rwanda, Dumisani Gwadiso, has yet to return to his post in Kigali 11 months after being recalled, said International Relations spokesman Clayson Monyela.
A source said: “In fact, SA should not have accepted this man (Nyamwasa) here as he has a questionable past, but we were forced to affirm his request after learning that his life was in danger.”
Nicole Fritz, director at the Southern African Litigation Centre, said: “To the extent that this decision is verified, we would welcome and commend the decision by SA to send him to another country as this would be in line with international law.”