South Africa explains expulsion of Rwandan diplomats


    19 March 2014

    South Africa’s recent expulsion of four Rwandan diplomats and one from Burundi was based on evidence that the diplomats were involved in cases of murder and attempted murder on South African soil, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Tuesday.

    “I [can’t] lay out the progress that our law enforcement agencies are making. I am appealing to all of us to remain calm and allow … the full investigations to be completed unhindered,” Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters at a briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday.

    Following the expulsion, Rwanda retaliated by ordering six South African envoys to leave the country. Rwanda has since accused South Africa of harbouring terrorists.

    Nkoana-Mashabane said the South African government had acted unemotionally and in accordance with the country’s Constitution and international laws of conduct. South Africa was guided by the international law in how it related to countries of the world, and would not tolerate any acts of criminality, regardless of who committed them.

    “We have the rights and responsibilities as a state to provide security to all South African citizens and visitors, irrespective of where they come from,” she said. “South Africa will not tolerate any acts of criminality or lawlessness emanating from anyone from anywhere in the world.”

    If any political or diplomatic challenges arose, South Africa would act based on the bilateral mechanisms in place, including the Vienna Convention, which defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries.

    International Relations and Cooperation spokesman Clayson Monyela said on Saturday that former Rwandan intelligence chief Patrick Karegyeya had been murdered in Johannesburg on 31 December 2013.

    There had also been two attempts to murder Kayumba Nyamwasa, an asylum seeker and former Rwandan army general living in Johannesburg, in June 2010 and on 4 March this year.

    Monyela said South Africa regretted that the Rwandan government had “reciprocated disproportionately” by expelling all South African diplomats except for the Ambassador.

    He noted that the Ambassador of Rwanda, the Millitary Attache and other functionaries in Rwanda’s diplomatic mission in Pretoria were in place and functioning normally.

    “The South African government sends a stern warning that action will be taken against any individual or group that abuses the human rights dispensation of the Republic,” Monyela said. “In doing so, we remain steadfast in ensuring that our territory is not used as a launching pad for any form of attack including terrorist activities against any member of the international community.”