The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, South Africa has issued an order withdrawing the refugee status of a former Rwandan Army Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.
Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa will now have to make a fresh application for refugee status in South Africa within 180 days.
This is the agreement reached in the Appeal Court Wednesday between the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants (CORMSA) and the Litigation Centre as appellants, and the Department of Home Affairs as respondent.
The matter was taken to the Appeal Court by the NGO CORMSA who argued that Nyamwasa’s refugee status be withdrawn and reviewed because he was allegedly a party to war crimes and thus should not be granted refugee status as suspected perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity were ineligible.
In the Court’s ruling by Justice Azhar Cachalia: “The decision taken in June 2010 by the ninth respondent to grant Kayumba Nyamwasa refugee status in term of the refugees act is reviewed and set aside.”
“This matter was brought to protect the integrity of the refugees system in South Africa. It’s important for the refugee system to be there to protect vulnerable individuals and persons fleeing persecution and anybody who is suspected of having committed a war crime should not be offered protection within the system and this is the reason why CORMSA and Southern Africa Litigation centre (SALC) and the Wits Law clinic brought the matter originally,” the ruling further read.
This means the legal process on whether he remains in South Africa or is declared persona-non-grata will restart.
In 2010‚ the former Rwandan army general Nyamwasa arrived in South Africa as a refugee‚ fleeing from his home following a disagreement with President Paul Kagame. Weeks after his arrival‚ four men tried to kill him.
Nyamwasa‚ who together with Kagame, founded the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) which took power in 1994‚ survived the hail of bullets‚ and the suspects are behind bars.
Later‚ another attempt was foiled by State Security.
Since his arrival, it has been claimed that he was involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Rwandan genocide that left more than 800‚000 people dead. Through an affidavit, Nyamwasa told French investigators that he heard Kagame say RPF forces were responsible for the assassination of former president Juvenual Habyarimana‚ whose French-crewed plane was shot down with a missile on 1994.