South Africa


Rwandan genocide suspect appears in Cape Town court on charges of fraud and contravening Immigration Act

Rwandan genocide suspect appears in Cape Town court on charges of fraud and contravening Immigration Act
Ukiliho Kayishema Fulgence, one of the last fugitives sought for their role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, appeared before a Cape Town court on Friday, two days after being arrested following 22 years on the run. (Photo: Xabiso Mkhabela)

Former Rwandan police officer Ukiliho Kayishema Fulgence, caught in Paarl last week, appeared in a Cape Town court on Friday on charges of fraud and contravening the Immigration Act. Proceedings have been postponed for further investigation, and further charges are expected.

Rwandan genocide suspect Ukiliho Kayishema Fulgence, on the run since 2001 and apprehended in Paarl last Wednesday, twice gave the wrong name while applying for asylum and refugee status. When he applied for asylum in January 2000, he stated he was a Burundian national. He did the same in 2004 when he applied for formal refugee status.

This was revealed on Friday in the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court, where Fulgence appeared briefly on two counts of fraud and three counts of transgression of the Immigration Act.

The court granted the State a seven-day postponement to continue its investigation, as it seeks to add more charges against Fulgence. He will remain behind bars until his next appearance. The State also indicated that it would oppose bail.

The Rwandan’s court appearance followed his arrest on 24 May in Paarl. According to Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Thandi Mbambo, at the time of his arrest, Fulgence was using a fictitious identity – Donatien Nibashumba.

The South African Operational Task Team (OTT) received pictures and information regarding his whereabouts from the UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), which led to his identification, Mbambo said.

According to the warrant of arrest and the IRMCT indictment, Fulgence was a police inspector in Rwanda, who allegedly played a significant role in the planning and execution of 2,000 people during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. 

His capture was the result of a collaborative operation involving the OTT; Crime Intelligence; the departments of Justice, Home Affairs and International Relations and Cooperation; the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) led by the Hawks; Interpol and Crimes Against the State. He was arrested in response to an Interpol Red Notice issued by the IRMCT.

Fulgence is alleged to have orchestrated the killing of about 2,000 Tutsi refugees at the Nyange Catholic Church  in 1994.

Ukiliho Kayishema Fulgence appears before a Cape Town court on Friday, two days after being arrested following 22 years on the run. The former Rwandan police inspector was arrested on Wednesday at a grape farm in Paarl, 60 kilometres north of Cape Town, according to UN investigators. (Photo: Xabiso Mkhabela)

Read more in Daily Maverick: UN war crimes prosecutor blasts South Africa for allowing a major Rwandan genocidist to flee the country

In July 2022, South African authorities formed an operational interdepartmental investigative team to assist the UN criminal tribunal in tracking down one of the last remaining fugitives sought for the 1994 atrocity. The UN’s fugitive-tracking team visited Pretoria and Cape Town in May 2022 to take advantage of this development. In December 2022, a dedicated multi-departmental South African investigative team collaborated with the United Nations to track down Fulgence.

According to the NPA’s Western Cape spokesperson, Eric Ntabazalila, the State alleges that on January 20 2000, the accused illegally, falsely, intending to defraud the Department of Home Affairs, pretended to be Fulgence Dende-Minana, a Burundian national.

He is also reported to have pretended to be Fulgence Dende-Minana, a Burundian national, when applying for formal registration of refugee status on 10 June, 2004. As a result, the State charged the accused with two counts of violating Section 49(1)(a) of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002, read with Section 1(1) of the Act, in that he unlawfully and wrongfully stayed in the country on 24 May, 2023, after his refugee status ended on 9 June, 2006. 

The State also claims he made false representations by behaviour, word, or otherwise in order to enter and remain in the country illegally and unfairly.

He also faces charges for the contravention of Section 37(b) of the Refugees Act 130 0f 1998, read with Section 1 of the Act, in that on 24 May 2023, he unlawfully and wrongfully failed to comply with or contravened the conditions subject to which any visa had been issued to him under the Act.

State prosecutor Advocate Nathan Adriaanse argued on Friday that it was in the interest of justice for the court to grant a postponement. Adriaanse said the State intended to oppose bail as “we intend to add more charges related to the Immigration and Refugees Act as more evidence was obtained during his arrest”.

The case was postponed to 2 June 2023, for further investigation. DM


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