South Africa has recalled its ambassador to Kigali following a diplomatic row over the shooting of an exiled Rwandan army general in Johannesburg, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.
"We have recalled our ambassador to Rwanda for consultations. Let me be categorical. We have not broken diplomatic relations with Rwanda," foreign ministry director general Ayanda Ntsaluba told a news conference.
The move is traditionally the strongest demonstration of official disapproval short of severing diplomatic relations, but Ntsaluba said Pretoria was in discussions with the Rwandan government.
"All of us are just trying to understand how we can work on our relations," he said.
Dissident Rwandan general Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa was shot and wounded on 19 June. His wife has called the shooting an assassination attempt sparked by Nyamwasa's criticisms of President Paul Kagame.
Five men have been charged over the murder, but South African prosecutors have not revealed their nationalities, saying only that they were investigating if the men were in the country legally.
"The presence of some Rwandese people in South Africa has had an impact on those relations," Ntsaluba said of Pretoria's recent ties with Rwanda.
"We are not making any connection by recalling our ambassador between the government of Rwanda and the specific incident involving general Nyamwasa," he said. However he added: "Clearly the presence of the individuals here has raised the temperature."
The Rwandan foreign ministry summoned South Africa's ambassador Gladstone Dumisani Gwadiso last month to express its concern over the probe into the shooting of Nyamwasa. Rwanda has denied any role in the shooting.
South Africa has suggested foreign agents might have been involved in the shooting but did not say which country they were from.