SA’s decision to grant Kayumba Nyamwasa refugee status to be challenged

Nyamwasa is accused of committing war crimes in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

FILE: Former Rwandan general Kayumba Nyamwasa. Picture: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - South Africa's decision to grant former Rwandan general Kayumba Nyamwasa refugee status will be challenged in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

Nyamwasa is accused of committing war crimes in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo while serving as an army general.

He was the subject of extradition requests from Spain and France in connection with the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Non-profit organisation, the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), has been fighting the State's decision to grant asylum to him since June 2010.

CoRSMA has long argued that Nyamwasa is not eligible to be granted refugee status because South African legislation excludes suspected perpetrators of war crimes from being given asylum.

However, the organisation failed to convince the High Court in Pretoria of its argument in September 2014.

CoRMSA has since petitioned the SCA to hear its case.

No date has been set down for the hearing.

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)'s Executive Director Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh says, "This case is of grave importance as the sanctity of the refugee system is at stake."

Supporting CoRMSA's legal bid, Ramjathan-Keogh says, "Yet again, South Africa is being treated as a safe haven for suspected criminals."

Nyamwasa moved to Johannesburg after falling out with his former allies in Rwanda.

He survived a hit on his life in 2010.

He had been shot in the stomach as he and his wife returned home from a shopping trip.

A second assassination attempt, while he was in hospital, was foiled by South African intelligence.

Authorities also reportedly uncovered a third plot hatched by the former general's enemies.