By David Himbara
Camir Nkurunziza, a former member of the Republican Guard responsible for guarding General Paul Kagame, was killed in South Africa on May 30, 2019. Nkurunziza had fled Rwanda, soon becoming an activist opposed to the constitutional change that enabled Kagame to stay in power beyond two terms. Nkurunziza’s death drew sharply different explanations among Rwandan senior officials.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, asserted that Nkurunziza was a criminal killed while hijacking a vehicle in Cape Town. In Minister Nduhungirehe’s words:
”Camille Nkurunziza, a member of terrorist organizations RNC of Kayumba Nyamwasa then FLN of Callixte Nsabimana, was also a hijacker in South Africa. He was killed yesterday evening by the Goodwood Police while resisting arrest with a knife. Once a criminal, always a criminal.”
Rwandan Ambassador to South Africa, Vincent Karega had an entirely different explanation.
In his interview with TimesLive, Karega asserted that Nkurunziza was driving a metered taxi and got hijacked. Karega went on to say that the hijackers put Nkurunziza in the backseat of the car and sped off. Shortly after, he was killed in the crossfire in the shootout with the police. TimesLive quoted Karega as follows:
”Probably they wanted to take the car … Maybe they wanted to take him somewhere it is dark or so and dump him. I don’t know.”
So, what is going on here?
We have two senior officials in the same government and the same ministry sharply contradicting one another. To Kagame’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nduhungirehe, Nkurunziza died hijacking a vehicle. To Ambassador Karega, Nkurunziza was hijacked and died in a crossfire between the hijackers and police.
The plot is thickening. Kagame was in South Africa on May 25, 2019. His former Republican Guard Nkurunziza gets killed on May 30, 2019. In the same car with Nkurunziza was another Rwandan whose fate remains. On May 31, 2019, Minister Nduhungirehe denounces Nkurunziza as a hijacker, while Ambassador Karega says Nkurunziza was a victim of hijacking.
Writing in the Daily Maverick about this subject, Carien Du Plessis was absolutely right when stated that ”the death of a Rwandan exile in Cape Town could be Pandor’s first big diplomatic test.” Naledi Pandor is, of course, the newly appointed Minister for International Relations and Cooperation. Suddenly, Minister Pandor has two Rwandan deaths to fathom — the ongoing case of Patrick Karegeya, the former Rwandan intelligence chief killed in Johannesburg in 2014 and Nkurunziza, the former Rwandan Republican Guard killed in Cape Town in 2019.