Promises have come to naught in Karegeya case

01 March 2015 - 02:00 By MONICA LAGANPARSAD
Colonel Patrick Karegeya, former head of Rwanda's external intelligence service, was found after being murdered in the "Michelangelo Towers Suites", where he has lived in exile for the past several years.
Colonel Patrick Karegeya, former head of Rwanda's external intelligence service, was found after being murdered in the "Michelangelo Towers Suites", where he has lived in exile for the past several years.
Image: ALEXANDER JOE / AFP

Investigations into the assassination of former Rwandan intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya are at a ''sensitive" stage. His family have been promised a breakthrough, soon.

But after a 14-month wait for justice, they are not confident his killers will be brought to book and have little faith in South Africa's justice system.

Karegeya fled his native country after falling out with President Paul Kagame and was granted asylum in South Africa in 2006.

At the time of his death, he had apparently been advising the South African and Tanzanian intelligence services as they prepared to send troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo to battle the Rwandan-backed rebel group M23.

On New Year's Eve 2013, Karegeya, 53, went to a suite at the Michelangelo Towers in Sandton to meet an informant he had known for some time. He was strangled. A towel with blood and a rope were found in the hotel room.

This week, his nephew David Batenga said Karegeya's wife and three children, who now live in the US, were bitterly disappointed by the police investigation into his murder.

"It's been 14 months and nothing has happened. The Hawks say the matter is with the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] for a decision. But every week I call them and they tell me to be patient. How long can we wait?"

Batenga said the family held a memorial for Karegeya in the US last month. "I had to update them on the latest but I had nothing new to tell them."

Batenga said Rwanda's minister of defence, General James Kabarebe, said of Karegeya in January last year: ''Do not waste your time on reports that so-and-so was strangled with a rope in flat seven in whatever country. When you choose to be a dog, you die like a dog, and the cleaners will wipe away the trash so that it does not stink for them."

This, said Batenga, was a clear indication of what investigators had to deal with.

"They know they can get away with it, so they are not concerned," said Batenga.

NPA spokesman Velekhaya Mgobhozi said: "The matter is at a very sensitive stage. The NPA is not prepared to comment as this may compromise the case."