Former Rwandan Genocide Suspect, Fulgence Kayishema, Appears in Cape Town Court
Fulgence Kayishema, a former police officer and one of the most wanted suspects in Rwanda’s genocide, made his second appearance before a court in Cape Town, South Africa on Friday (2nd June).
Nearly three decades ago, Kayishema allegedly orchestrated the killing of around 2,000 people, making him a key figure in the genocide. The court proceedings were adjourned until 9th June following his appearance.
According to statements from Eric Ntabazalila, the spokesperson of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Kayishema has been charged with at least 14 offences, with the possibility of more charges being added later. During the adjournment, the state will review files to create a more comprehensive charge sheet.
State prosecutor Nathan Adriaanse stated, “What we are talking about at the moment is local charges. Then it will also depend on the two lever arch files which have more charges against Fulgence Kayishema, then it will depend on what comes out of those.”
Previously known as Donatien Nibashumba, Kayishema applied for asylum in South Africa in January 2000, falsely claiming to be a citizen of Burundi. He was apprehended on 24th May at a grape farm in Paarl, a small town located 60 kilometers (35 miles) north of Cape Town.
Kayishema and others are accused of participating in one of the bloodiest episodes of the genocide, where over 2,000 men, women, and children seeking shelter in a church were brutally slaughtered.
Naphtali Ahishakiye, the executive secretary of Ibuka, an association of genocide survivors, has called for Kayishema’s repatriation to Rwanda for trial. Ahishakiye expressed concerns that justice may not be served if the suspects were not tried in Rwanda promptly.
Kayishema’s lawyer, Juan Smuts, stated that his client is currently calm and composed, awaiting extradition documentation indicating the country seeking to extradite him. On 2nd June, wearing a blue jacket, black trousers, and spectacles, Kayishema denied any involvement in the massacre when questioned by a local journalist before entering the packed courtroom.
The Rwanda genocide claimed the lives of approximately 800,000 Rwandans, mostly ethnic Tutsis, over a span of 100 days at the hands of Hutu extremists.
Fulgence Kayishema was indicted by the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity, for his alleged involvement in the killings and other crimes during the genocide.