Holding an inquest into the death of Rwanda’s former head of intelligence, Colonel Patrick Karegeya, is an abuse of process because the suspects have already been identified, says the head of AfriForum’s private prosecution unit, advocate Gerrie Nel.
Nel was in court on behalf of Karegeya’s family and the Rwanda Platform for Dialogue on Wednesday to determine why Karegeya’s death was not investigated with the aim of arresting and prosecuting those responsible.
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In response, the State argued that the court had no jurisdiction to overrule the Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) decision to not prosecute.
“I’m saying it is an abuse, because there is nothing in the case docket that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) put forward to explain why they decided not to prosecute; it is an abuse of process.
“Why would the NPA want an inquest? We should prosecute now,” Nel said in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court.
He also claimed that the assassination was not fully investigated and that it was used to cover up four years of NPA and SA Police Service (SAPS) inaction.
“The last witness statement was commissioned in April 2015. There is not a single statement that the SAPS took any steps to trace the suspect. There were no attempts to investigate or extradite well-known suspects but now we want to have an inquest,” he added.
In 2018, the DPP decided that an inquest should be established. Prosecutor Yusuf Baba argued that, until higher powers in the NPA decided to set aside that decision, the court couldn’t instruct the State to pursue any kind of prosecution.
Karegeya sought asylum in South Africa in 2008 when he had a fallout with the regime and set up an opposition movement, the Rwandan National Congress.
He was found dead in a hotel room at Michelangelo Towers in Sandton in 2013.
Soon after the incident, the BBC reported that Karegeya went to his suite to meet an informant. It’s alleged that the killers used this person as bait. The killers rented a room across the corridor.
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Five years later, the NPA submitted the matter to the magistrate for an inquest to be held into Karegeya’s death after AfriForum approached the court about the matter.
His widow, Leah Karegeya, who was present at Wednesday’s court proceedings, believes that political interference caused the delay in justice.
“There is political interference in this case, absolutely,” she told the media outside court.
“We thought the delay was due to the fact that this is a high-profile case, but we have just heard from our lawyers that the police had evidence from February 2014.”
The matter has been postponed to Monday when the magistrate is expected to give judgment on AfriForum’s application to set aside the inquest and order that the suspects be prosecuted.