Kagame Will Turn South Africa Into His Killing Field — Again

Open Letter Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa

Dear President Cyril Ramaphosa, I write this letter as a permanent resident of your beautiful South Africa. Enchanted by its history and its struggle against injustice led by Nelson Mandela, Oliver Thambo, and other great leaders, I moved to South Africa in 1994. Sadly, I fled South Africa in December 2013. The hasty departure from my adopted homeland — beautiful South Africa — is the reason I write this open letter.

President Ramaphosa, while in South Africa, I took different assignments in Rwanda, my country of origin. I worked directly for President Paul Kagame in several categories. I was his Principal Private Secretary in 2000–2002. We disagreed on many grounds, and I returned to my home in South Africa. President Kagame invited me again to join his team — which I did from 2006 to January 2010, to lead economic reforms. The President and I disagreed, upon which, once again, I returned to my home in South Africa.

President Ramaphosa, something terrible happened in Rwanda from 2009 onwards that profoundly affected South Africa. President Paul Kagame became more violent, unleashing terror at home and abroad. In 2010, opposition leaders, journalists, and senior army officers were imprisoned, exiled, and even killed. Several prominent Rwandans fled to South Africa, including General Kayumba Nyamwasa, who survived at least three assassination attempts.

In September 2014, a South African court found three Tanzanians and one Rwandan guilty of a “politically motivated” plot to kill Nyamwasa in June 2010. The judge concluded that the attempt to assassinate Nyamwasa “emanated from a certain group of people from Rwanda.”

President Ramaphosa, Rwanda’s politically-motivated violence on the South African soil took the life of Colonel Patrick Karegeya, who was murdered on New Year’s eve of 2014. That is when South Africa decided it had had enough of Rwanda-sponsored violence. The then South African Justice Minister Jeff Radebe warned Rwanda that “our country will not be used as a springboard to do illegal activities.” South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats accusing them of operating killing squads to hunt down Rwandan exiles. Rwanda expelled six South African diplomats “in reciprocity.”

President Ramaphosa, as you embark on implementing your domestic agenda and foreign relations, I humbly advise you to tread carefully when associating with the Kagame government. To begin with, a number of issues remain unresolved, not least the murder of Patrick Karegeya. Surely, four years is too long for rendering justice and closure of this painful chapter of the loss of Karegeya.

President Ramaphosa, when you re-admit Rwandan diplomats to South Africa, please make it absolutely clear that diplomacy does not include operating killing squads in South Africa. If you don’t do this, Kagame will surely turn South Africa into his killing field — again.

Mr. President, as for me, after witnessing Rwandan-sponsored violence in South Africa, I painfully decided to leave my adopted homeland in December 2013. This was a personal tragedy to leave a country I called home for 20 years. But South Africa lives in me. Please make South Africa even better, by among other things, not allowing the likes of President Kagame to export his violence to your beautiful country.

Yours Sincerely,

David Himbara