THE court did not have to make a finding that former Rwandan army general Faustin Nyamwasa was a war criminal, but only that there was reason to believe he was one, the North Gauteng High Court heard on Monday.
The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants Rights in South Africa brought an application to challenge the decision by South African authorities to grant refugee status to Mr Nyamwasa.
Anton Katz SC, for the consortium, told the court that Mr Nyamwasa applied for refugee status and was granted asylum on the same day. Mr Katz said this was unheard of and “there must have been something illegal” in the process.
Mr Katz said the way the authorities dealt with the case was irrational and outside the process contemplated by the Refugees Act.
Mr Katz said the one-day turnaround time in processing his application was irrational because the act envisaged an elaborate process to be undertaken by the refugee reception officer and the refugee status determination officer.
Mr Katz said section 4 of the act stated that a person did not qualify for refugee status if there was a reason to believe he or she was a war criminal.
Mr Nyamwasa was an active member of the Rwandan armed forces in the 1990s and there were credible reports that implicated him in the commission of grave human rights violations in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In 2005, he was appointed as Rwanda’s ambassador to India, a position he held until early 2010. During this time, Mr Nyamwasa openly criticised Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s leadership, straining the close relationship these two men once shared.
In 2010, after being accused of corruption and embezzlement, Mr Nyamwasa fled Rwanda to South Africa.
His presence in South Africa came to light after he survived what is believed to be an attempted assassination.
Shortly after the attack the South African authorities confirmed that Mr Nyamwasa had been granted refugee status.
The matter continues.