Johannesburg - Rwanda's murdered ex-intelligence chief agreed to scrap his South African security detail before he was strangled to death in a Johannesburg hotel room, according to a political ally.
Patrick Karegeya, 53, was discovered slumped on a bed by staff at the hotel on New Year's Day, prompting accusations that Rwandan President Paul Kagame had ordered a hit.
Karegeya was the former head of Rwanda's external intelligence service and once a close ally of Kagame. But after a decade spent as the gatekeeper to Rwanda's foreign intelligence network he fell out of favour.
In 2007 he fled into exile in South Africa, where he became a fierce critic, describing Kagame as a dictator and alleging he had first-hand knowledge of the state killing of Rwandan dissidents abroad.
“When Karageya first entered this country... the South African government put him under state protection,” political ally Frank Ntwali told AFP late Thursday.
The decision was influenced by assassination attempts against former army chief of staff Kayumba Nyamwasa, another Rwandan exile in South Africa, according to Ntwali.
But in 2012 Karageya and the South African government had agreed to end the close protection, said Ntwali, who heads the Rwanda National Congress in Africa
“They agreed that they would allow him to walk without bodyguards or without protection, which has turned out to be a miscalculation,” said Ntwali.
“He was on his own,” he said.
Ntwali said his friend had expressed fears for his safety, but after years in South Africa became comfortable.
“He knew that his life definitely was in danger... that's why he fled Rwanda, but I think he got to a level where he thought that here he would be able to evade them.”
In a last ill-fated meeting, Karageya had visited Johannesburg's luxurious Michelangelo Towers hotel to talk with a man Ntwali named as a Rwandan national.
“This individual... was claiming to be running away as well from the regime of the Rwanda. He was claiming harassment, detention, expropriation of his properties.”
South African police did not respond to inquiries about the identity of the man. - AFP