By Zinhle Dlamini

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, the world woke up to the shattering news of the death of Patrick Karegeya, a one-time loyalist of Rwanda?s president Paul Kagame. Karegeya was reported to have been strangled in his hotel room in Sandton Johannesburg in January. Speculation was rife that he had been murdered by Kagame?s hitmen.

The dust has barely settled and reports that Kayumba Nyamwasa, Rwanda?s former army chief narrowly escaped an assassination after his would-be assassins raided his Johannesburg residence dominate the news headlines.

This resulted in both South Africa and Rwanda expelling diplomats from each other?s countries.

Last year, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that it has abolished the status of Rwandan refugees around the world because it believes that the political situation in Rwanda is stable.

The UNHCR pronouncement was received with shock and despair by many Rwandese refugees who are not yet ready to go back home.

They said that although the political situation in Rwanda may seem stable, there is still a lack of trust between among the Hutu?s and the Tutsi?s ? the two main ethnic groups who fought each other during the war.

For many Rwandese living in South Africa, the latest incidents of the murder and the attempted assassination events have added insult to injury.

Freddy Makaya from Congo Brazzaville recently visited the Kigali Memorial Centre in the capital city of Rwanda.

?It (the tension) is not over. You can feel it in the air. You can see it in the people,? he said.

We spoke to a Rwandese national, Patrick* who lives in Johannesburg. He asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions. He corroborated Makaya?s observation.

?The United Nations says the war is over there is peace in Rwanda, but the truth is that Rwandese do not feel safe. Even between us who are living outside of Rwanda, there is not trust. We talk, we eat together, but because of the past we are always wary of hidden agendas.

Asked if he would consider going back to Rwanda, Patrick* said ?I can?t go back to Rwanda because I have been gone for a long time. I have lost touch with the country?.

Patrick* left Rwanda in 1994. He was 21 years old.

?I was listening to the radio with my uncle when I heard that the presidential jet had been shot down and the president, Juvenal Habyarimana had died in the crash. Soon afterwards we heard that people were being killed in mass?.

For two weeks Patrick, his uncle, uncle?s wife, cousins and some community members fled their homes to live in the Akagera National Park.

?In the night we would sneak back to the village to get food and then we would go back to sleep in the park. One day just before dawn, I was woken up by the hysterical screams of a neighbour. He was wrestling against a leopard which had caught him in his sleep. His four children and his wife ran along with the rest of the villagers.?

After two days of witnessing the gruesome attack of their neighbour, Patrick* and the other villagers heard that some rebels were coming to the forest to look for the people who were hiding there.

That is when he took the decision to escape to Tanzania, leaving behind his mother and siblings who were in another province. ?

Patrick eventually settled in South Africa. It was then that he found out that his mother and some of his siblings had not survived the genocide.

My brother was captured; his hands bound to his back and then stabbed with a machete. My mother was also stabbed and she died from her wounds. Some of my relatives were never found.?

Although it has been 20 years since the brutal murder of his family, tears still well up in his eyes when he thinks about them.

The latest incidents of murder and attempted assassination allegedly by Kagame?s hitmen are a far cry from a country trying to convince the world that its people have reconciled.

Source Zinhle Dlamini is a freelance writer





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