President Cyril Ramaphosa and Rwandan President Paul Kagame meet in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Picture: SIYA DUDA
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Rwandan President Paul Kagame meet in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Picture: SIYA DUDA

An arrest warrant has been issued by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for two of the four alleged murderers of an exiled former Rwandan spy and critic of President Paul Kagame who was killed in a Johannesburg hotel in 2014, the family lawyer said on Monday.

The NPA is also applying for the extradition of two other suspects of Rwandan descent, family advocate Gerrie Nel said in a statement. If granted, the NPA will apply to Interpol to issue “red notices” for the suspects, Nel said.

Former spy Patrick Karegeya was found strangled in his room in the luxury Michelangelo hotel on January 1 2014. An autopsy determined he had died the day before. All four suspects are on the run and their whereabouts unknown.

According to his family’s legal team, an inquest launched in January 2019 revealed that the NPA could have taken steps to prosecute on the grounds of the evidence at their disposal in 2014.

Documents from that January hearing showed the NPA had found “links” between the suspects and Kagame’s regime.

But critics say the NPA had refused to prosecute to avoid diplomatic tensions with Kagame. In SA, Karegeya became a fierce critic of Kagame, describing the Rwandan leader as a dictator and alleging he had first-hand knowledge of the state killing of Rwandan dissidents abroad.

The Rwandan government has over the years denied any involvement and wrongdoing. But according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) many other former supporters of Kagame have been the targets of attacks and threats in recent years.

Former army chief of staff, Faustin Nyamwasa, another Kagame opponent, survived two assassination attempts in June 2010 in SA in what Pretoria described as an attack by foreign security operatives.

Nel on Monday hailed the move to issue the arrest warrants as a “big victory”, but slammed the NPA for delays.

“The only feasible conclusion is that the NPA wanted to avoid a prosecution. We welcome the current steps and hope that the NPA will continue with the process keenly,” he said.

Under Kagame’s regime, Karegeya took charge of foreign intelligence services for a decade, until he fell into disfavour. He was jailed in 2005 and 2006, and in 2007 went into exile, heading for SA on the heels of Nyamwasa.