Murder of Rwandan banker: Police admit no progress

The Mozambican police have confirmed the murder in Maputo last weekend of the former director of the Rwandan Development Bank (BRD), Theogene Turatsinze.

Speaking to the independent television station STV, Maputo city police spokesperson Orlando Mudumane said the police had been notified of Turatsinze’s disappearance on 11 October. They soon found his abandoned car at Robert Mugabe Square, near the coast road.

Mudumane said Turatsinze’s body was found on Sunday, floating in the Bay of Maputo. He said the police do not yet know who killed Turatsinze or why.

Strangely enough, the initial news of Turatsinze’s death came, not from any Mozambican source, but from the Rwandan embassy in Pretoria. The embassy’s version is that Turatsinze went missing after meeting with a group of investors, whom he dropped off at their hotel on Friday evening (contradicting the police version that he disappeared on Thursday).

In an e-mail sent to the Rwanda “New Times” newspaper, the Rwandan High commissioner in South Africa, Vincent Karega said “after dropping them at around 8 pm, he was no longer on the phone and he did not return home”.

Karega said the motive might have been kidnapping “but no-one tried to ask for a ransom”, and eventually the body was found tied up and floating in the bay.

Turatsinze headed the BRD from 2005 to 2007. Allegedly the bank was being looted by the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and in 2007 Turatsinze disobeyed an order from the Finance Ministry to declare the BRD bankrupt.

This led to Turatsinze’s dismissal and his replacement by Jack Kayonga who obeyed the Finance Ministry order, declared the BRD bankrupt – and cancelled all the debts of RPF members.

According to a report in the latest issue of the on-line Rwandan paper “Umuvugizi” (which is deeply hostile to the regime of President Paul Kagame), auditors from the IMF and the World Bank have been investigating what happened to the BRD’s money, and had requested Turatsinze’s collaboration.

These claims have led to speculation in some of the Mozambican press that Turatsinze was eliminated by a Rwandan death squad, because he knew too much about the financial affairs of senior figures in the RPF.

There is a history of mysterious deaths of Rwandan exiles. Thus former interior minister Seth Sendashonga was assassinated by unidentified gunmen in Kenya, shortly after he had set up an opposition movement. Exiled journalist Charles Ingabire was murdered in Kampala in 2011, and an attempt was made on the life of the former chief of staff of the Rwandan armed forces, Lt-Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa in Suth African in June 2010.

A journalist investigating the attack against Nyamwasa, Jean-Leonard Rugumbage, was murdered a few days later in the Rwndan capital, Kigali.

The Rwandan government has demanded a full investigation by the Mozambican authorities into the assassination of Turatsinze. A statement from the Rwandan High Commission in Maputo said Turatsinze “was an active member of the Rwandan diaspora in Mozambique. He had become a role model for a number of young Rwandans who were employed by his consultancy firm”.

The statement demanded that Mozambique “bring the culprits to book”, The High Commission said it was committed to following up the case and would support Turatsinze’s family “in this trying time”.

Vincent Karega doubles up as Rwandan High Commissioner to both South Africa and Mozambique. He was accredited by President Armando Guebuza on 10 October.

At the time of his death, Turatsinze was Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Sao Tomas University, a private university in Maputo owned by the Catholic Church.

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