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SA to tread lightly on ex-spy's death

Durban - The government is bracing itself for another sharp plunge in relations with Rwanda after the apparent murder of dissident former Rwandan spymaster Patrick Karegeya in a plush Sandton, Joburg, hotel on New Year’s Eve.

Officially, Pretoria insists Karegeya’s death in a room in the Michelangelo Towers Hotel remains, for now, an ordinary murder investigation.

Patrick Karegeya was found strangled in a room at Johannesburg's plush Michelangelo Towers hotel. File photo: Chris Collingridge. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

But unofficially, the government is fairly certain the finger of guilt will point to President Paul Kagame’s government – as it did in 2010 when Karegeya’s friend and fellow-dissident, ex-army chief General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, survived two assassination attempts within a fortnight.

Official sources said it would be an unacceptable affront to South Africa’s sovereignty if it were proved Kigali had sent agents to this country to assassinate an opponent.

Director-general of International Relations and Cooperation Jerry Matjila called in top police, security and intelligence officials on Thursday to be briefed on the case, they said.

This week, Rwanda’s high commissioner to South Africa, Vincent Karega, denied his government had arranged Karegeya’s murder, asking why would it would have waited six years if it wanted to kill him.

He said Karegeya was under the South African government’s protection, so all questions about what had happened to him should be directed to it.

However, Karegeya had not been under South African government protection since April 2011, his nephew David Batenga said yesterday.

He said Karegeya had asked to leave the safe house he had been living in, so he could earn his own income, rather than rely on the government for his livelihood, Batenga said.

His protection had ended when he left the safe house and moved to a gated community in Roodepoort.

Batenga said Karegeya had been betrayed by Rwandan businessman Appollo Kiririsi Gafaranga, whom he had known since he was head of external intelligence in Rwanda, according to a statement from the Rwanda National Congress. - Independent on Saturday

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