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Detained Rwandan genocide suspect slapped with more than 50 charges under SA law ahead of bail hearing 

Detained Rwandan genocide suspect slapped with more than 50 charges under SA law ahead of bail hearing 
Rwandan genocide suspect, Kayishema Fulgence appears at Cape Town Magistrate's Court on 2 June2, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images/Die Burger/Jaco Marais)

Ukiliho Kayishema Fulgence is facing nine counts of fraud, 10 for contravention of the Refugees Act and 35 for contravening the Immigration Act. The charge sheet only deals with his alleged actions in South Africa, not Rwanda. In Rwanda, he is accused of orchestrating the killing of about 2,000 Tutsi refugees at the Nyange Catholic Church during the nation’s 1994 genocide.

State prosecutor Nathan Adriaanse presented the charge sheet to the Cape Town Magistrates Court on Friday and informed the court that a copy had been provided to Ukiliho Kayishema Fulgence’s legal representative.

The matter was initially set down for the defence to indicate whether Kayishema Fulgence will seek bail. That, however, did not happen. Adriaanse told the court that Fulgence’s attorney, Juan Smuts, was unable to consult with his client about the charges levelled against him.

“When the accused legal representative arrived at Pollsmoor Prison to consult with his client, he found out that his client had been transferred to Helderstroom Prison,” Adriaanse told the court.

Smuts, who said that he had not been informed about his client’s relocation to Helderstroom Prison, told the court that he is unable to confirm any instructions for a bail application at this time.

He stated he will only be in the position to do so once he has consulted with his client, discussed the charges he faces and will at the next appearance give the court a definite reply on whether Fulgence is applying for bail.

Fulgence, who has been on the run since 2001, was apprehended in Paarl on 24 May this year. At the time of his arrest, Fulgence was using a fictitious identity, namely Donatien Nibashumba.

The 54 charges relates to 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 further alleges that on January 20, 2000 Fulgence, intending to defraud the Department of Home Affairs by pretending to be Fulgence Dende-Minana, a Burundian. It is also alleged that when he applied for formal refugee status in 2004, he did the same thing.

Fulgence is accused of orchestrating the killing of about 2,000 Tutsi refugees at the Nyange Catholic Church during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. 

In December 2020 the Daily Maverick reported that 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 multi-departmental South African investigative team collaborated with the United Nations to track down Fulgence.

In confirming the charges against Fulgence, National Prosecuting Authority Western Cape Regional spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila informed the media that the NPA is confident that the authorities have apprehended the correct person.

The matter will be heard again in Cape Town Magistrates Court on Friday, 16 June, when the defence will declare whether or not the accused will seek bail. DM


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