Capr Town - With the diplomatic ball firmly back in South Africa's court following the expulsion of six of its diplomats from Rwanda, the department of international affairs on Monday persisted in its silence on the matter.
Last week, South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats, one of whom, according to reports, has been linked to an “attempted hit” on exiled Rwandan army chief Faustin Nyamwasa at his home in Johannesburg.
On Friday, Rwanda responded by expelling six diplomats based at the South African mission in its capital Kigali.
While Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said at the time that the expulsions were “in reciprocity”, there is speculation that the decision to exactly double the number expelled is a signal Rwanda is prepared to up the ante.
Questions sent to the department of international relations on Monday morning - querying, among other things, whether the two countries are heading towards cutting diplomatic ties - remained unanswered by late afternoon.
A week ago, armed men broke into Nyamwasa's home. According to a Reuters report quoting an unnamed diplomatic source, South African security services had tracked the attackers.
“It was very clear that they were intelligence personnel attached to the Rwandan embassy,” the source reportedly said.
Nyamwasa, who is a former rival and critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, survived an assassination attempt in Johannesburg in 2010.
He and his family were not at home last Monday night, reportedly having been moved to a safe place ahead of the latest attack.
Nyamwasa and former Rwandan spy chief Patrick Karegeya were founding members of the opposition Rwanda National Congress. Karegeya was murdered in a Johannesburg hotel room on New Year's Eve.
Other Rwandan exiles have accused Kagame and his government of being behind Karegeya's death and the latest attack on Nyamwasa.
Kagame and other senior Rwandan officials have denied any involvement in attacks on exiled opponents.
Also last week, South Africa expelled a Burundian diplomat - Jean-Claude Sindayigaya, the first secretary of the embassy of Burundi - but has offered no reasons for sending him home.
By 4pm on Monday, the department of international relations and co-operation had not responded to phone calls, sms messages and e-mails sent to it earlier in the day.