Conflict & Justice

South Africa stops another attempt to kill Rwanda ex-army chief: report


A picture taken in 2001 shows Rwandan Army Chief of Staff, Major General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwansa during a press conference at Camp Kigali. The former army chief, who later became Rwandan ambassador to India, fled into exile in South Africa via Uganda and then Kenya. In South Africa he has survived assassination attempts.



South Africa has reportedly foiled  another assassination attempt on Rwanda's Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former military general who fled into exile last year after falling out with Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Lt. Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa was shot in June 2010 during an ambush outside his Johannesburg home, in an apparent attempt on his life. South African police foiled another attempt to kill him in his hospital bed as he recovered from the gunshot wound.

BBC News reports that the new plot to kill the former Rwandan army chief involved an attack with machine guns at Nyamwasa's home in an affluent suburb of Johannesburg. Sources said that South African intelligence had foiled the plot and escorted Nyamwasa from his home at short notice. 

Umuvugizi, a Kinyarwanda-language news website based in Denmark, said South African authorities had seized photographs, emails, guns and other materials linked to the murder plot.

But South African police spokesman McIntosh Polela told the BBC that there was no record of another attempt to kill Nyamwasa, adding "even if we did we wouldn't tell you."

More from GlobalPost in Johannesburg: South Africa tries 6 for allegedly trying to kill Rwandan critic

Rwandan dissidents have accused President Kagame’s government of sending out agents to assassinate critics in foreign countries. Rwandan authorities have strongly denied the allegations of involvement in the ambush on Nyamwasa.

Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Front party have been in power since the end of the 1994 genocide that killed 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, when he led a rebel army into the capital to expel a Hutu-led government. It is this history that Kagame uses to justify his continuing authoritarian rule.

But Kagame’s government is accused of becoming increasingly despotic. Human rights groups say opposition politicians, journalists and civil society activists in Rwanda have been subjected to growing crackdowns.

In May, British police warned some Rwandan exiles living in the U.K. that their lives were in danger, and the threat is believed to have come from the Rwandan government.

Nyamwasa, who was most recently Rwandan ambassador to India, has become an outspoken critic of Kagame, but has kept a low profile since the apparent assassination attempt last June.

In Rwanda, Nyamwasa and other former top Kagame aides have been convicted in absentia on charges that include threatening state security.