By Abdulkarim Ssengendo & Raymond Baguma
After the Ugandan Government took a position against burying former Rwandan intelligence chief Col. Patrick Karegeya in Uganda, his family has now opted to bury him in South Africa.
The Government advised the family either to bury him in his home country Rwanda or the country where he was resident.
In a statement issued by the foreign ministry, the Government expressed its stand on the burial of Col. Karegeya, a Rwandan national, though born in Mbarara district, where his parents still live.
“Following media reports of the death of Col. Patrick Karegeya in South Africa and speculation regarding his interment, the Government of the Republic of Uganda wishes to clarify that the deceased was a citizen of the Republic of Rwanda and resident in South Africa at the time of his death.
"Therefore, burial arrangements should be made in one of those countries. The Government of Uganda has communicated this position to the family of the Late Karegeya,” a statement issued by Government said.
His wife, Leah Kabuto Karegeya, issued a statement on Sunday saying the family had taken a difficult decision to bury Karegeya in Johannesburg, adding that the date would be communicated later.
Her statement, e-mailed from Maryland, US where she lives, reads in part: “As a family, we have taken a difficult decision to have him laid to rest in Johannesburg, South Africa on a day and date I shall make known to you all later. We thank all of you family and friends who have shown us tremendous love and support at this most trying time. Your courage has strengthened us greatly,” she said.
Ernest Kanimba, a brother of the deceased, in a telephone interview acknowledged that the family’s wish had been to have Karegeya buried in Uganda, but this has not been granted.
He said the bereaved family has nominated four people to fly to South Africa, including Karegeya’s mother Jane Kensoro and elder brother James Nyakarundi to attend the burial. However, their departure will depend on how soon they can sort out the travel arrangements.
After Karegeya’s death, his family in Uganda requested the Government of Uganda to facilitate the transportation of the body to Uganda for burial, although he was a Rwandan citizen and a former senior security officer having served in several positions in Rwanda’s intelligence.
Karegeya, 53, was discovered slumped on a bed by staff at a $350-a-night hotel room in Michelangelo Towers Hotel in Johannesburg on January 1.
Karegeya was the former head of Rwanda’s external intelligence service and once a close ally of Kagame. But after a decade spent as the gatekeeper to Rwanda’s foreign intelligence network he fell out of favour.