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State set to pile on charges against Rwandan genocide suspect Ukiliho Kayishema Fulgence

State set to pile on charges against Rwandan genocide suspect Ukiliho Kayishema Fulgence
Fulgence Kayishema, one of the last fugitives sought for their role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in court following his arrest in Paarl. (Photo: Xabiso Mkhabela)

The State says it will spend the weekend poring over two ‘massive’ files relating to the alleged offences of Ukiliho Kayishema Fulgence. There are already 17 charges have been filed, but it says more will be added.

On Friday, prosecutor Nathan Adriaanse told the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court that he had received the two additional files from the Department of Home Affairs and the police.

“It’s two massive Lever Arch files. So far, I’ve discovered 17 charges. More charges will be added,” Adriaanse said.

The prosecution would sift through the files over the weekend and furnish the defence with a comprehensive draft charge sheet by Monday, 5 June.

When Fulgence appears again, on Friday, 9 June, the State will learn whether he intends applying for bail, which it has said it will oppose.

Fulgence’s legal representative, Juan Smuts, told the court he had not received any of the charges against his client, but arrangements had been made with the State to furnish the defence with all the relevant documents by Monday. This would put the defence in a position to obtain proper guidance.

Fulgence is alleged to have orchestrated the killing of about 2,000 Tutsi refugees at the Nyange Catholic Church during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. He was arrested in South Africa on Wednesday, 24 May. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Rwandan genocide suspect Fulgence Kayishema arrested in South Africa – UN tribunal

He currently faces charges of fraud and contravening the Immigration Act, as well as 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. 

The State alleges that on January 20 2000, Fulgence, intending to defraud the Department of Home Affairs, pretended to be Fulgence Dende-Minana, a Burundian, and when he applied for formal refugee status in 2004, he did the same thing.

Fulgence Kayishema in a Cape Town court after 22 years on the run. (Photo: Xabiso Mkhabela)

‘No clarity’ on extradition

Following Friday’s brief appearance, Smuts told the media: “I have no idea what charges my client is facing. I’m waiting for Interpol to send me a letter confirming his extradition. We are unsure whether the request will be for extradition to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Rwanda, or Tanzania. We don’t have any clarity on that right now.”

When asked if his client planned to apply for bail, Smuts said it was premature and that he preferred to take things one step at a time. He would be able to make an informed judgement after they had received clarification on the allegations.

National Prosecuting Authority Western Cape spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the files received by the State “came from SAPS and the Hawks, and the State will receive more”. 

“Much more charges will be added. When we return to court on Friday, the accused will have a full charge sheet disclosing all the charges against him.”

Ntabazalila declined to comment on the genocide claims, adding that at the moment the only charges against the accused in South African courts are those connected to fraud and violations of the Immigration Act.

“But, it will depend on what comes out this weekend, as the prosecutor will be dealing with new charges to be added to the charge sheet. The State is working closely with Interpol.”

A small crowd of Rwandan citizens arrived at court on Friday to support the accused. 

In December 2020, Daily Maverick reported the South African government has received a blistering public rebuke from an international war crimes prosecutor for allowing one of the worst perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide to escape from South Africa in 2018 and for continuing to frustrate international efforts to track him down.

However two years later, in December 2022, a dedicated multidepartmental South African investigative team collaborated with the United Nations to track down Fulgence. DM

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