AfriForum pushes for private prosecution of Rwandan spy boss’s killers

18 April 2019 - 16:43 By Naledi Shange
Members of the Rwanda National Congress opposition party shout slogans while holding pictures of slain party founder Patrick Karegeya (L) and posters of Rwandan President Paul Kagame (R).
Members of the Rwanda National Congress opposition party shout slogans while holding pictures of slain party founder Patrick Karegeya (L) and posters of Rwandan President Paul Kagame (R).
Image: ALEXANDER JOE / AFP

The Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Friday referred the case involving the murder of Rwanda’s intelligence head, Patrick Karegeya, back to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for it to decide whether or not it would pursue the suspects.

The former Rwandan colonel had sought refuge in SA, but was found strangled in a Sandton hotel room on December 31 2013.

At the request of the Karegeya family, AfriForum’s private prosecution unit had brought the matter back to the court as it sought to pursue a private prosecution if the NPA opted not to prosecute the suspects.

"AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit will attentively monitor the process and the progress thereof and will apply for a nolle prosequi certificate if the NPA once again fails to pursue justice," head of the unit Gerrie Nel said in a statement.

"Should the NPA, Hawks and SAPS fail to prosecute the suspects in this case, it would mean that South Africa has become a haven for assassins, The court’s decision, however, sends a message to the police and NPA that they cannot fail to prosecute criminals simply because these criminals have political connections. We hope that the NPA will now fulfil their legal responsibility and prosecute these suspects to the full extent of the law," Nel added.

In an inquest before the Randburg Magistrate’s Court in January, the court heard that the suspects behind the murder were known but no steps were taken to prosecute.

At the time, Nel said the last witness statement was taken in April 2015. The lead investigator identified the suspects as four Rwandan citizens in a statement on January 8 2014, just over a week after the murder.

According to Nel, the lead investigator said in a statement that the suspects had left South Africa shortly after the murder.

Nel said: "The institution of an inquest must be an indication that an investigation has been completed. We are convinced that the investigating officer will have to admit that there is outstanding investigation to be done."

State prosecutor Yusuf Baba had however said the director of public prosecutions had advised in a letter dated June 5 2018 that the NPA had declined to prosecute.

"This court has no jurisdiction in making of that respect (instituting a criminal investigation) as the National Prosecuting Authority, as given by his powers of the National Prosecuting Act, has already made a decision," Baba said in January.

AfriForum said there was no merit to the NPA failing to prosecute, adding that the statement handed in by the investigating officer indicated that "no steps were taken as the relationship between South Africa and Rwanda played a role in the decision to track down the suspects."

The NPA had at the time denied any political meddling in the case.


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