Adv. Gerrie Nel, Head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, today appeared in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court in an informal inquest into the death of Col. Patrick Karegeya, the former Rwandan Head of Intelligence. During these proceedings the magistrate referred the case back to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for them to decide whether they will prosecute the responsible suspects, as found in his order.
In January 2019 the magistrate ordered the investigating officer in the case to indicate which steps he had taken to arrest the Rwandan suspects, as the identities and whereabouts of these individuals are known. The inquest was removed from the role on the previous occasion after Adv. Nel brought an application to the effect that there is no reason for the leading of evidence in a formal inquest, as the magistrate already had all the evidence in front of him that would enable him to make a finding in terms of liability. The investigating officer’s statement confirmed this, and the magistrate concluded the inquest informally.
The informal inquest determined that the identity of the deceased and the cause and date of death are known, also that Karegeya’s death was brought about by an act amounting to an offence. The NPA could therefore have started to take steps to prosecute on the grounds of the evidence at their disposal in 2014. The statement handed in by the investigating officer further indicates that no steps were taken as the relationship between South Africa and Rwanda played a role in the decision to track down the suspects. The magistrate’s judgement requires further action from the NPA as persons whose identities are known, committed a crime in South Africa. This decision will make it very difficult for the NPA to decide not to prosecute.
“Should the NPA, Hawks and SAPS fail to prosecute the suspects in this case, it would mean that South Africa has become a haven for assassins. The court’s decision, however, sends a message to the police and NPA that they cannot fail to prosecute criminals simply because these criminals have political connections. We hope that the NPA will now fulfil their legal responsibility and prosecute these suspects to the full extent of the law. AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit will attentively monitor the process and the progress thereof and will apply for a nolle prosequi certificate if the NPA once again fails to pursue justice,” says Adv. Nel.
* Karegeya, who sought asylum in South Africa after fleeing Rwanda, was found strangled in a hotel room in Johannesburg in 2013. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) failed to institute prosecution for five years and decided in January 2019 to submit the matter to the magistrate for a judicial inquest to be held into the death of Karegeya. This follows after AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit was approached on behalf of Karegeya’s family and other parties to determine why his death was not being properly investigated nor investigated with a view of arresting and prosecuting the people responsible.