General's refugee status challenged

2012-10-29 21:04

Pretoria - A former Rwandan army chief who survived several assassination attempts should never have been granted refugee status in South Africa because he was suspected of being a war criminal, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) applied for the court to set aside the June 2010 decision by South African authorities to grant refugee status to former Rwandan general Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.

Anton Katz SC, appearing for the applicant, argued Nyamwasa should never have been considered for refugee status because he was suspected of war crimes.

Section 4 of the Refugees Act, in accordance with international practice, excludes persons who are reasonably believed to have committed a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity, from applying for refugee status.

CoRMSA only learnt of Nyamwasa's presence in the country when he became the victim of an assassination attempt in Johannesburg in June 2010.

Nyamwasa blamed his former ally, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, for orchestrating the attack. He and his family were granted refugee status shortly after the attack.

South African authorities have refused an application for Nyamwasa's extradition to Rwanda, where he was last year sentenced in absentia to a lengthy prison term for his alleged involvement in a series of grenade attacks in the country's capital Kigali.


According to CoRMSA, a French judge issued an arrest warrant for Nyamwasa in 2006 for involvement in orchestrating the shooting down of an aircraft carrying former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana.

Two years later a Spanish judge indicted Nyamwasa for war crimes, and earlier this year asked for help from South African authorities to interview him.

The indictment implicated Nyamwasa in the killings of civilians in Rwanda and the DRC, and maintained he had been responsible for the massacre of 2 500 Hutu refugees and the murder of four Spanish nationals.

South African authorities contended the evidence was not sufficient to conclude there was reason to believe Nyamwasa might have been involved in international crimes.

Katz said the applicant did not want Nyamwasa to go back to Rwanda because of the political climate in that country.

"We agree that he can't be sent back to Rwanda, but that does not concern this court. This court must decide if he's entitled to refugee status.

"If the decision was irrational this court must set it aside... He [Nyamwasa] may find himself having to apply for another type of permit."

Approved within a day

Katz said it would appear Nyamwasa had applied for and was granted refugee status within a day, which was unheard of in South Africa.

He argued that refugee laws provided for the protection of the vulnerable and persecuted, not for those who perpetrated atrocities.

"The facts demonstrate an absolute failure on the part of the respondents to understand what they were doing."

He argued the decision to grant Nyamwasa refugee status was irrational, unlawful and unconstitutional and should be set aside.

South African authorities have attacked CoRMSA's legal status to bring the application and also refused to make documents available on which the decision was based, saying the act conferred confidentiality on all asylum applications.

A legal skirmish broke out when the authorities sought to introduce a document which it said would prove Nyamwasa had applied for asylum long before he was granted refugee status.

Katz objected, describing the application as "improper and distasteful".

The application continues.

  • SharonE - 2012-10-29 21:27

    Let me see if I understand this correctly: They fall over each other to allow this man to stay in SA - A man linked to the deaths of at least 2500 people, but they won't give a visa to the Dalai Lama, a man of peace??

      mark.a.fysh - 2012-10-29 22:10

      I guess the Dalai Lama wasn't open to bribery.

      sally.lewitt - 2012-10-29 22:17

      Exactly.. Dumb fkkrs

      luther.kingsley.5 - 2012-10-29 22:42

      Criminal government loves their criminal comrades and will give refugee status to all of them if the world wasn't watching.

      goeie.jaarling - 2012-10-30 05:43

      SharonE, why does this surprise you? You are governed by criminals and murderers. Zuma was the head of Quatro and Mandela bombed civilians....never forget the history of the criminal ANC.

      george.outremer - 2012-10-30 07:12

      Because the Dalai Lama is white.

      sean.baker.79827 - 2012-10-30 07:38

      i was thinking exactly that....RSA - welcomes all criminals. In fact it's a prerequisite for a position in government

      adrien.mcguire - 2012-10-30 09:55

      This goverment has incredible talent. Always aligning itself with the criminally tainted people on the run ! Amazing that this is the country of choice for all the dregs of society !

  • sally.lewitt - 2012-10-29 22:11

    Looks like we've rolled out the read carpet for all and sundry regardless of prior criminal history BUT on condition, make sure to bring in enough $$$ .. money BUYS you a Safe Haven.

  • terrylee.heuer - 2012-10-29 22:41

    why are our SA authorities so hell bent on protecting this guy??!! Rwanda has terrible history of killings I certainly don't want a man like that seeking refuge in my country seems to be enough evidence against him though give him to Spain let them sort him out!!!

      beverly.young3 - 2012-10-30 06:13

      You know the sad thing is that we forget the 'blood diamonds' story. I was asked to edit a manuscript written by a guy who was tasked in operating barges in Rwanda. Yes, he went in and out, (contracted by an electrical company) made some money etc., but left after a few months. Oh my, the writings, stories are HORRIFIC!!!!! Hitler was tame in comparison to these army types.

  • muke.matshaba - 2012-10-29 22:47

    In mzansi money buy u freedom,Its so unfortunate with Cherryl Cwele i wonder why her comrades ddnt defend her,Our coutry is full of wealthy foreign criminals hu infested it with drugs guns n all illegal activities and if caught they buy their freedom asap.crime is rife poverty is the norm of the day,hope the world end sooner than we expected what we daily see is so frightening.

  • andre.vandeventer.16 - 2012-10-30 06:51

    This is the trademark of the ANC government. They molly-coddle the rogues of the world, and at the same time spit in the face of people and countries that are meaningful to mankind!

  • adrien.mcguire - 2012-10-30 10:01

    On the subject of refugees......... can anyone explain to me how so many Pakistani people get refugee status in this country? They have a democratically appointed government, there is no religious persecution as they are all Muslims, crime is less than here etc etc. So why do they all get refugee status?????????

  • pages:
  • 1