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Exiled Rwandan opposition politician shot dead in Cape Town

The Guardian logo The Guardian 4 days ago Staff and agencies in Johannesburg

A Rwandan opposition figure exiled in South Africa has been shot dead in Cape Town in what his party described as an “assassination”.

Seif Bamporiki, 49, who was the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) coordinator in South Africa, was killed as he delivered furniture in the crime-ridden township of Nyanga.

While the motive for his murder is as yet unclear, an RNC spokesperson, Etienne Mutabazi, said the method mirrored past politically motivated attacks.

The killing “was executed in a similar modus operandi of luring the victim in a compromising and insecure environment for assassination,” he said.

Mutabazi was referring to past attacks on Rwandan dissidents in South Africa, including the former intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya who was strangled in his room in a luxury hotel in 2014.

Bamporiki and his colleague from a pawn shop were accosted by two assailants as they waited for a client who had disembarked from their vehicle to collect money to pay for a bed he had bought.

The client had “been looking for him for quite a while”, Mutabazi said. “Even on Saturday, that particular individual came to the shop and said only Bamporiki could serve him.”

The attackers made off with the activist’s pickup truck and money, leaving his body on the ground. No arrests have been made.

Other Rwandan opposition politicians have been killed or attacked in South Africa, leading to strained diplomatic relations between the two countries.

In 2010 the former Rwandan army chief Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa survived an assassination attempt when shots were fired at his car in the driveway of his Johannesburg home. In 2014 his house was broken into, leading South Africa to expel Rwandan diplomats from the country after linking its intelligence agents to the raid.

In retaliation, Rwanda expelled six South African diplomats and accused the country of harbouring Rwandan dissidents whom it accused of terrorism.

Rwandan opposition activists exiled in South Africa have long accused President Paul Kagame’s government of ordering the attacks on its leaders in South Africa, accusations that have been denied by the government.


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