The South African government and former Rwandan diplomat Kayumba Nyamwasa may have had a hidden agenda a year before he fled Rwanda for the Southern Africa nation in early 2010, according to court documents tabled in the ongoing lawsuit challenging his asylum status.
Photo: United Nations
It has emerged from one of the documents submitted by South African government lawyers, who are actually defending him, that Kayumba had plans to seek refuge in Pretoria as early as March 2009. The document suggests that the SA government had news of Kayumba’s arrival long enough before he got there.
Two South African NGOs have taken their government to court seeking to have Kayumba’s asylum revoked. They instead want him to be extradited to either France or Spain for trial over controversial indictments that also target some other Rwandan officials.
On Monday, the case came to be heard by the High Court in Pretoria. Following submissions from the complaining NGOs, the defense – which is representing the government and Kayumba, had its time. The NGOs had claimed that Kayumba applied and was granted asylum on June 22, 2010 – which is unusual, because it take months or even years to get asylum.
However, the defense sought to show the court that the asylum was granted several months before. During defense submissions, they filed a document which showed Kayumba got asylum in March 2010. But when the document was extensively reviewed by the two sides, it was discovered that the document had been processed on March 14, 2009.
Amid this new revelation, the court erupted into confusion and chaos among lawyers and the public gallery. With this document tabled, it means court also finds itself in another complicated situation whereby it has to establish the authenticity of this new asylum seekers permit.
As for the petitioning NGOs, they have already branded the new document as either “doctored” or that something else unknown could be surrounding Kayumba’s contentious stay, according to reports.
Meanwhile, the defense said the document is an asylum seeker’s permit issued to Kayumba on May 28 2010. At that point, both sides went into heated exchanges as to whether this new evidence should be allowed after the organizations had already made their submissions.
Due to the shock and confusion in the court, lawyers on both sides could be seen battling to convince the judge to listen to their side; the report from the court said.
Observers are now wondering whether it could be possible that South Africa prepared asylum documents for Kayumba even before he had fled Rwanda. Could it be that Kayumba’s asylum was preparation around March 14, 2009 when he was still Rwanda’s Ambassador to India?
In late 2009 Kayumba returned to Rwanda for Christmas holidays, only to flee at the beginning of February 2010. He would later surface in South Africa.
For starters, issues concerning Kayumba and his asylum in South Africa rose on June 19, 2012 following a failed assassination attempt on him. Kayumba has tried to accuse the government of Rwanda, though there has not been any indication from another separate case that Kigali was involved. Six people are currently being tried over the incident.
This latest case and concerns over Kayumba’s mysterious stay in the South is not new. The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants Rights in South Africa (CoRMSA) – which are challenging his stay, have called him a “war criminal”.
The Director of SALC, Nicole Fritz accused the South African government of faking the reality while they know Kayumba has cases to answer in Rwanda. She condemned the act of offering asylum to Kayumba illegally, saying that the decision is not only unlawful but it is offensive to those in genuine need of South Africa’s protection which sends a signal to war criminals who might feel welcome.
Comprehensive accounts of the war crimes charges against Gen Kayumba has been presented by the two NGOs which say are “credible reports implicating” him in the commission of “grave human rights violations” in this region that amount to “crimes against humanity and war crimes”.
As concerns the controversial document, it also was revealed that the place of issue seen on the submitted document was Johannesburg, when in the affidavit Kayumba mentioned that he applied the asylum at Crown Mines in Pretoria. This could become another hot issue as the judge decides how to proceed.
Judge Mngqibisa-Thusi had been expected to decide her verdict on Tuesday, but has moved it to a later date as she reviews the evidence before the court.
Who is Kayumba Nyamwasa?
Lieutenant General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa was a Rwandan Army former Chief of Staff who fled to South Africa in February 2010 after being accused of involvement in terrorist activity within Rwanda. Nyamwasa had formerly been head of Rwandan intelligence.He had also served as Rwanda’s ambassador to India. Married to Rosette Kayumba, he has three sons and a daughter (Philbert Runanira, Moris Muvunyi, Marc Manzi and Phiola Tesi Kayumba). He had fled the country after being accused of attempting to build a power base in the army. The Rwandan government later stated that he may have been working with Colonel Patrick Karegeya, another former intelligence head who was living in exile in South Africa. (… read whole wikipedia article)
Sources: 30.10.12, News of Rwanda, allAfrica.com, Wikipedia