The Ugandan government hesitates on the funeral of Colonel Karegeya.

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Close family sources said Rwanda was opposed to the burial of Col Karegeya in Uganda but this claim could not be officially verified as Rwandan High Commissioner in Kampala Maj Gen Frank Mugambage didn’t answer our repeated calls.

The South African government released the body of former Rwanda spymaster Col Patrick Karegeya but the family is still stuck with it in Johannesburg because they have not received clearance from the Uganda government to bring it in the country for burial.

Col Karegeya’s brother Ernest Mugabo told the Sunday Monitor yesterday that the body was being kept in a private mortuary waiting for clearance from Kampala.

“The body has been handed over to us. It is in a private mortuary but we are stuck because the government of Uganda has not cleared us to bring it for burial. We do not know what to do,” he said.

Col Karegeya, 53, was discovered dead on a bed in Johannesburg’s luxurious Michelangelo Towers Hotel room on New Year’s Day, prompting accusations that Rwandan president Paul Kagame was behind the assassination. The Rwandan government has dismissed the claim.

On Thursday, Col Karegeya’s family in Uganda appealed to the government to allow the body to be buried in Uganda. Col Karegeya has a home in Biharwe, Kashari County in Mbarara District.

Family members of Col  Patrick Karegeya at his home in
Family members of Col Patrick Karegeya at his home in Rwenjeru Biharwe Sub-County in Mbarara District on Saturday. Photo by Alfred Tumushabe

Mr David Batenga, the deceased’s nephew to whom the South African government released the body, said consultations were still ongoing and a final funeral programme would be released later in the day.

This newspaper understands that preliminary findings of the postmortem done at Johannesburg General Hospital were inconclusive and experts there had extracted additional samples from the body for further toxicological analysis to determine the exact cause of death.

The Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Mr Fred Opolot, said yesterday that the Uganda government would first consult the Rwandan Embassy in Kampala since Col Karegeya was a Rwandan citizen.

“The government will consult with the Rwandan Embassy about this issue. But our position is that we cannot take unilateral decision since Col. Karegeya is not an ordinary Rwandan,” Mr Opolot said.

Earlier on Friday, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Okello Oryem, said Col Karegeya’s family would be allowed to bury him in Uganda but “without involvement of the Uganda government in the arrangements” but added it would be after consultations with the Rwandan government.

“We are doing it specifically on humanitarian grounds….,” Mr Oryem said.
Although the Uganda government said Col Karegeya, who was born in Uganda, could be buried here as requested by his mother, other relatives are understood to be weighing all options available.

Close family sources said Rwanda was opposed to the burial of Col Karegeya in Uganda but this claim could not be officially verified as Rwandan High Commissioner in Kampala Maj Gen Frank Mugambage didn’t answer our repeated calls.

However, Mr Opolot said they had not received any formal protest from Kigali either, regarding the burial of Col Karegeya’s body in Uganda.
He also said Karegeya’s family had not made a formal request to the government to have him buried at his home in Mbarara.

High Court judge Kenneth Kakuru, who is chairing the committee of friends and relatives making burial arrangements, confirmed the family had not made a formal request but said there was no need to.

“I have never heard such. Many people have died in different countries and their remains are flown and buried back home. There is no need to make a request,” Justice Kakuru said.

He said the widow, who lives in the USA, would give a statement later in the day on when and where the deceased would be buried.

KAREGEYA HAD SCRAPPED GUARDS

Rwanda’s former intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya agreed to scrap his South African security detail before he was found dead in a Johannesburg hotel room, a political ally has said.

Col Karegeya, 53, was discovered slumped on a bed by staff on New Year’s Day.
Col Karegeya was the former head of Rwanda’s external intelligence service and once a close ally of president Paul Kagame. But he later 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 Karegeya first entered this country… the South African government put him under state protection,” political ally Frank Ntwali told AFP.

The decision was influenced by assassination attempts against former army chief of staff Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, another Rwandan exile in South Africa, according to Ntwali.

But in 2012, Karegeya 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 Mr Ntwali.
“He was on his own,” he said.

Mr Ntwali said his friend had expressed fears for his safety, but after years in South Africa, he 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,” he said.

In a last ill-fated meeting, Col Karegeya 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 Rwanda. He was claiming harassment, detention, expropriation of his properties.”

The man was the last person to be seen with Karegeya. Mr Theogene Rudasingwa, a Washington-based coordinator of the Rwandan National Congress, told The Associated Press on Thursday: “We have been told the guy who was last seen with Patrick was from Rwanda, a Rwandan whom Patrick knew who used to go to Rwanda and come back. I think he pretended to be Patrick’s friend.”

Members of the Rwandan opposition claim Col Karegeya was assassinated at the behest of Mr Kagame.
Rudasingwa described Karegeya’s death as an assassination that fit a pattern of attacks against prominent opponents of Mr Kagame.

However, the Rwandan government has vehemently denied it targets opponents for assassination.

By  RISDEL KASASIRA & FREDRIC MUSISI

Additional reporting by Tabu Butagira

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