Four men were jailed for eight years each by the Kagiso Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday for attempting to murder a former Rwandan general, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said.
Rwandan national Amani Uriwane, and Tanzanians Hassan Mohammedi Nduli, Sady Abdou and Hemedi Dengengo Sefu, were each sentenced to eight years for attempted murder, five years for possession of an unlicensed firearm, and two years for possession of illegal ammunition, NPA spokesperson Nathi Mncube said. The sentences would run concurrently.
Six men – three Rwandans and three Tanzanians – were arrested and tried for the failed plot to kill General Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former member of Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s inner circle, French news agency Agence France-Presse reported.
AFP reported that two of the Rwandans – the alleged mastermind and Nyamwasa’s former driver – were acquitted by magistrate Stanley Mkhari during their last court appearance on August 29.
Nyamwasa fled to South Africa in February 2010 after falling out with the Kigali administration.
He was shot and wounded in Pretoria in June 2010 in what was described as an attack by foreign “security operatives”.
Mkhari found that the assassination attempt was politically motivated.
Nyamwasa has been given asylum in South Africa. Spain and France want to extradite him for his alleged role in the 1994 genocide, AFP reported.
Rwanda wanted him to serve a 24-year prison sentence there after a military court tried him in absentia on charges of desertion, defamation, and threatening state security.
He also faces terrorism charges for allegedly masterminding grenade attacks in Kigali in the run-up to Rwanda’s 2010 presidential elections, AFP reported.
Exiled, shot and wounded
The exiled Rwandan general was shot and wounded in 2010 in what his wife called a Rwandan-backed assassination attempt, a charge the Kigali government dismissed as “preposterous”.
Nyamwasa was in the intensive care unit of a Johannesburg hospital after being shot in the stomach, Rosette Kayumba told Reuters Television.
Nyamwasa’s wife said she, her husband, their children and a driver had returned home from a shopping trip when an armed man approached their car and shot her husband.
Her husband and the driver got out of the car and scuffled with the gunman before he fled, she said. She said doctors told her her husband would survive.
Kayumba said she believed Kagame was behind the attack, and ruled out an attempted robbery or car hijacking because the gunman targeted only her husband and did not try to steal the car.
“He must be behind this, I don’t have proof … but we’ve been harassed for such a long time,” she said of Kagame.
Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwandan foreign minister and government spokesperson, told Reuters by telephone: “Not only do I deny it, I think it’s preposterous for Mrs Nyamwasa to be making that kind of comment.”
She added: “The Rwandan government does not go around shooting innocent citizens …The time when presidents and governments went around assassinating their citizens is over in Rwanda.”
Previously this year, South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats on the suspicion that they were behind the assassination attempts, and South Africa declared them “persona non grata”, saying they had “violated their diplomatic privileges”.
Rwanda immediately retaliated by expelling six South African diplomats from Kigali. Kagame’s response to Pretoria’s allegations was both ambiguous and hawkish. “Anyone who betrays our cause or wishes our people ill will fall victim,” he said at the time.
The presence of many Rwandan dissidents in South Africa has long been a bone of contention between the two countries, but relations turned frosty after Kigali’s exiled former intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya was found strangled to death in a luxury Johannesburg hotel.
The full-blown row was sparked by Nyamwasa’s assassination attempt. – AFP, staff reporter