Still no sign of SA citizen who vanished in Rwanda

17 October 2018 - 16:14 By Ernest Mabuza
President of Rwanda Paul Kagame
President of Rwanda Paul Kagame
Image: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

There has been no word on the whereabouts of Leon Orsmond‚ a South African advertising executive who disappeared in Kigali‚ Rwanda‚ in February.

As his family and friends step up their campaign to trace him‚ the SA government says it too is in the dark about his circumstances.

This week‚ a Facebook page titled “Find Leon Orsmond” emerged asking why the Rwandan National Police were not responding to questions about Orsmond’s disappearance from his home in Kigali.

The post also mentioned that the Rwandan National Police last tweeted in March about Orsmond’s disappearance when they sought information from the public.

On Wednesday‚ Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya said Orsmond had disappeared and Rwandan authorities did not know where he was.

“In Rwanda‚ the Rwandan police have put (out) notices looking for him. As we sit now‚ this is an open case and we do not know where he is‚” Mabaya said.

Orsmond's 62nd birthday was on October 11.

A crowdfunding campaign has so far raised R61‚700 to help his concerned family and friends pay for a private investigator to join the search for him.

On Back-a-Buddy‚ the campaign organiser states: "His family has contacted both the South African and Rwandan authorities‚ but there has been no sign of him . . ."

"The Rwandan police have made no headway in the search for him and his family and friends now believe a private investigator is needed to go and look for clues . . . A police search of hospitals and morgues has not turned up anything.

"The funds requested are for return flights‚ hotel accommodation and four days of enquiries by the highly experienced South African investigator."

In the days leading up to his disappearance‚ Orsmond had been critical of Rwandan president Paul Kagame and the government there in a number of Instagram and Facebook posts.

On the Facebook page launched to help find him‚ a post suggests he is "in prison‚ somewhere in Rwanda‚ for having upset the authorities by supporting freedom of speech' there".

In March‚ it was speculated he may have had problems with his permit to be in the country legally as his visa could have expired.

Orsmond has been working in Rwanda for more than eight years.

Business Day previously reported that Orsmond was working as a freelancer for various companies in Rwanda. During his advertising career in South Africa he worked for reputable agencies including Leo Burnett‚ Ogilvy and Bernstein Loxton Golding and Klein.