Rwandan exile Kayumba Nyamwasa and his wife, Rosette. File picture: Denis Farrell

Johannesburg - The South African government has maintained its official silence for almost a week on Monday about its major fallout with Rwanda that has led to 10 diplomats being expelled from the two countries.

Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesman Clayson Monyela tweeted on Monday night: “Rwanda matter is being handled by the Security Cluster. I understand the frustration but my hands are tied…”

The security cluster of cabinet ministers, chaired by Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, was supposed to issue an official statement on the row but has been silent and could not be reached on Monday.

And the Burundian embassy seems to be in the dark about why one of its diplomats was expelled on Wednesday along with three Rwandan diplomats.

Burundi’s ambassador to South Africa, Isaie Ntirizoshira, said at the weekend that he had been told only that the diplomat was a threat to South African security.

South African officials said privately that the Burundian diplomat had “collaborated” with three Rwandan diplomats involved in an attempt to assassinate exiled former Rwandan military chief of staff General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa in a South African government “safe house” in Joburg last Monday night.

Nyamwasa fell out with his erstwhile comrade Rwandan President Paul Kagame and fled to South Africa in 2010, where he was given political asylum.

The first two assassination attempts were launched against him later that year, and on January 1 his friend and former colleague Colonel Patrick Karegeya, once Kagame’s head of military intelligence, was found strangled in a room in Sandton’s plush Michelangelo hotel.

The South African government expelled the three Rwandans and one Burundian diplomat on Wednesday, saying privately that security agents had established that they were involved in the latest attempt on Nyamwasa’s life.

Rwanda retaliated by expelling six South African diplomats from the South African High Commission in Kigali on Friday, leaving only the high commissioner, George Twala, still at his post.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo tweeted that her government had kicked out the six to “reciprocate” the expulsion of Rwanda’s diplomats and also because South Africa was harbouring people who were supporting terrorism in Rwanda. - Independent Foreign Service

The Star