Patrick Karegeya

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Patrick Karegeya
Director General, External Intelligence of the Rwandan Defence Forces
In office
Personal details
Mbarara, Uganda
DiedDecember 31, 2013
Johannesburg, South Africa

Patrick Karegeya (1960 - December 31, 2013) was a head of intelligence in Rwanda. He was a member of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) group that took power in Rwanda following the genocide and civil war.[1] After becoming a critic of RPF leader Paul Kagame, he was stripped of his rank and jailed.[1][2] Following a time in exile, he was assassinated in Johannesburg, South Africa on December 31, 2013.[1][3]

Early life, rise in Uganda[edit]

Karegeya was born in Mbarara[4] in southwestern Uganda. He was a member of the Kinyarwanda speaking Tutsi people who had been exiled to Uganda from Rwanda following the 1959 Hutu revolution.[1] As part of this tight knit community, from an early age he knew future RPF leaders like Kagame and Kayumba Nyamwasa.[1] Karegeya earned a Bachelor of Law degree from Makerere University in Kampala,[2] the same university attended by many post-colonial African leaders.

Like other Tutsi exiles, including RPF founder Fred Rwigyema, Karegeya joined the National Resistance Army (NRA) in Uganda. The NRA had been fighting the Ugandan Bush War. The war was led by Yoweri Museveni who was attempting to overthrow Ugandan president Milton Obote. According to his own account, he was arrested in June 1982 and charged with treason, spending three years in jail.[2] After serving his sentence he rejoined the NRA as a lieutenant in Ugandan military intelligence. He claims the decision to invade Rwanda was made at this time by the Tutsi exiles while Kagame was studying in the United States.[2]

In power in Rwanda[edit]

In 1990, while now Ugandan president Museveni was in New York City at a United Nations conference, the RPF took many Ugandan arms and supplies and invaded Rwanda.[1] Karegeya stayed behind in Uganda to serve as a liaison between intelligence agencies of Uganda and the RPF.[1] Following the war and the genocide, Karegeya took up a position as head of intelligence for the RPF's new government in Rwanda. From 1994 to 2004, he held the post of Director General, External Intelligence in the Rwandan Defence Forces.[2]

During his decade in charge of intelligence, Rwanda was involved in complex fighting both internally and in the eastern Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). Many Hutu, both Interahamwe (the group most responsible for the genocide) and innocent civilians, were packed into refugee camps on the Zaire-Rwanda border.[5] This led to the creation of a large variety of militia groups being backed by different regional powers in the First and Second Congo War.[5] Karegeya had a large role in coordinating intelligence for these wars and for dissident suppression at home.[1][2][5]

Karegeya was arrested and served an 18-month sentence for desertion and insubordination.[6] He was stripped of his rank of colonel on 13 July 2006 by a military tribunal and fled the country in 2007.[2] Later, Kagame claimed that Karegeya was in the pay of South African military intelligence.[7]

In August 2010, Karegeya told the Ugandan paper, The Observer, that Kagame was a dictator who would not leave power unless he was forced out by war.[8] The same month, he told the BBC that Kagame had ordered a series of political killings.[9]


On 1 January 2014, Karegeya was found dead at the Michelangelo Towers, an upmarket hotel in the Johannesburg suburb of Sandton in South Africa. Reports indicated that he had gone to attend a meeting at the hotel when he was murdered.[10] The circumstances leading to his death remain unknown. The South African police are conducting investigations although the Rwandan opposition party, the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) said in a statement to AFP that "He was strangled by agents of [Rwandan President Paul] Kagame," having previously survived several assassination attempts. Karegeya left behind his wife Leah and three children.

Some days after his killing, Paul Kagame, in an apparent reference to Karegeya's murder, said that "You can't betray Rwanda and not get punished for it [...] Anyone, even those still alive, will reap the consequences. Anyone. It is a matter of time."[11] When confronted, Kagame denied responsibility, but added that "I actually wish Rwanda did it. I really wish it."[12]

It was reported in the South African press that Karegeya had agreed to dispense with his South African security detail in 2012. The government of South Africa had provided the protection since Karegeya’s arrival in South Africa in 2007. The decision to provide protection was reportedly influenced by assassination attempts against former army chief of staff Kayumba Nyamwasa, another Rwandan exile in South Africa.[13]

Karegeya's family has accused South Africa of covering up his murder.[14]

In January 2019, a state prosecutor launched an inquest into the assassination. The hope was to issue arrest warrants for the suspects who are believed to have fled back to Rwanda.[1] On 19 January 2019, the Randburg Magistrates Court ruled that it was striking the murder inquest from its rolls as the prosecution had not produced any suspects.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wrong, Michela (2019-01-15). "Rwanda's Khashoggi: who killed the exiled spy chief?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g ROBERT MUKOMBOZI (2 August 2010). "Patrick Karegeya, exiled Rwanda colonel calls for war on Kagame". France Rwanda Tribune. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
  3. ^ Rwanda National Congress (3 January 2014). "Patrick Karegeya assassinated on Dec 31 – Press statement".
  4. ^ "Intel tried to save Rwandan spy boss". News24. 2014-01-12. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
  5. ^ a b c Prunier, Gérard,. Africa's world war : Congo, the Rwandan genocide, and the making of a continental catastrophe. Oxford. ISBN 9780199705832. OCLC 1091901440.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ JAMES MUNYANEZA. "Karegeya walks out of prison". New Times (Rwanda). Retrieved 2010-08-12.
  7. ^ "President Paul Kagame under scrutiny". The Economist. Aug 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
  8. ^ "Kagame unleashes his warrior's instincts". Rwanda Information Portal. August 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
  9. ^ Rob Walker (5 August 2010). "Rwanda government denies link to assassinations". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
  10. ^ "Rwanda ex-spy chief 'murdered' in South Africa". New Straits Times. Agence France-Presse. Archived from the original on 2014-01-02.
  11. ^ Gatehouse, Gabriel (26 March 2014). "Mysterious death of a Rwandan exile". BBC News.
  12. ^ Laing, Aislinn (2014). "Rwanda's president Paul Kagame 'wishes' he had ordered death of exiled spy chief". The Telegraph. Johannesburg.
  13. ^ "Slain ex-spy scrapped SA security detail 2014". Cape Argus. 4 January 2014.
  14. ^ Wrong, Michela (2019-01-16). "South Africa 'covering up murder of ex-Rwandan spy boss'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  15. ^ Zulu, Sifiso. "Family of Patrick Karegeya demand justice after murder inquest struck from role". Retrieved 2019-03-28.