South Africa and Rwandan relations have taken a turn for the worst as both countries have expelled the others’ diplomats. The feud, which is rapidly escalating is over the murder of a former Rwandan government official who was killed in South Africa’s capital of Johannesburg three months ago.
Bloomberg news reports that Rwanda’s foreign minister announced the moves on Twitter on Friday saying:
“We have expelled six South African diplomats in reciprocity and concern at South Africa harboring of dissidents responsible for terrorist attacks in Rwanda.”
In retaliation, a government official from South Africa confirmed it had expelled the rival country’s diplomats as well. According to the BBC, the moves come after armed men invaded and attacked the Johannesburg home of Kayumba Nyamwasa, a Rwandan former chief of staff.
The former official has been exiled from his home country, making him a prominent target for attackers loyal to the opposition. Fortunately for him, he was not at home at the time of the attack. The invaders did manage to steal the man’s computer and a few documents.
Rwanda’s former head of intelligence, Patrick Karegeya is the man at the center of the two countries’ latest harsh actions. On New Year’s day, Karegeya was found dead in a hotel room, located in South Africa’s affluent Sandton area. At the time of his death, the former official was meeting with a friend from his home country.
South Africa believes that Karegeya was a target from the neighboring county because he co-authored a briefing note that attacked Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
“Rwanda is essentially a hard-line, one-party, secretive police state with a facade of democracy,” it said. “President Kagame and the ruling party that he leads depend on repression to stay in power.”
Four days after the murder in South Africa’s capital, the government announced it would start an official probe into the death. Not long after that release, Kagame said that enemies of his government should expect to “pay.” That seemed to indicate that Kagame not only knew who had committed the crime but that he knew it was going to happen.
It appears that people in and around Johannesburg are not keen on a leader of another country sending armed men into the town in order to carry out political retribution. While Kagame government officials haven’t admitted to any role in the murder, South Africa appears ready to pin the blame on the rival country.