The killing of Seif Bamporiki this weekend is just the latest in a spate unresolved attacks on exiled anti-Kagame leaders living in South Africa and in other countries
The continued assassinations of Rwandan political leaders exiled in South Africa is harmful to the country’s image, due to SA being seen as weak in stemming the tide of President Paul Kagame’s crusade of silencing dissenting voices.
This caution by counter-terrorism expert Jasmine Opperman, who is with the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project, followed the Cape Town killing over the weekend of Rwandan National Congress spokesperson Seif Bamporiki, who was shot dead at Nyanga township.
Opperman said the death of opposition politician Bamporiki, formed part of a list of unresolved attacks on exiled anti-Kagame leaders living in South Africa and in other countries.
“This incident goes directly to the South African intelligence services and to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), on what government is going to do in its interactions with its Rwandan counterparts, to thwart these intelligence operations on our home soil.
“These attacks are not legal. It is within the South African government’s mandate to provide protection to Rwandan political exiles or to enact counteractions, because this harms our image to a great extent worldwide,” said Opperman.
She said Kagame’s government had gone on a worldwide crusade “to identify anyone who is opposing or critical of his leadership”.
Added Opperman: “What has happened in Cape Town should not be seen in isolation to the kidnapping and incarceration in Rwanda of Paul Rusesabagina, who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, having saved people during that country’s genocide.
‘Hotel Rwanda’ hero Paul Rusesabagina (R) in the pink inmate’s uniform arrives from the Nyarugenge prison with Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS) officers at the Nyarugenge Court of Justice in Kigali, Rwanda, on September 25, 2020. (Photo by Simon Wohlfahrt / AFP
“Rusesabagina was hounded and taken out of Texas in the United States, with Rwanda’s head of intelligence later admitting that it was one of the biggest intelligence operations carried out by the Rwanda Intelligence Organisation.
“This is indicative of a government that is becoming more obsessive, more conspiratorial and adopting a hard-line stance on anyone that is becoming critical of the Rwandan president. Incidents like the one in Cape Town, have been seen worldwide.”
The South African government, which has renewed full diplomatic ties with Rwanda, has avoided taking a hard-line stance on the East African country following the killings.
Police could not say how much progress has been made in arrests and prosecution of people behind the attacks on Rwandan political exiles.
Referring to the Bamporiki killing, Police Minister Bheki Cele’s spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said: “The minister has been kept updated by the provincial police management about the incident, which police are investigating.”
“We are busy checking with the police whether this was a crime or an assassination, which will determine how we respond,” said DIRCO spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele.
Bamporiki, who ran a bed shop, was killed by an unknown assailant who fired a single gunshot through his vehicle, while he was making deliveries in Nyanga township.
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