Cape Town – After more than 20 years on the run Rwanda genocide-accused former policeman, Fulgence Kayishema, was a subject of curiosity for journalists when he appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
It was as if journalists, in attendance, wanted to see what a man who escapes the long arm of the law for two decades running from country to country looks like.
The 62-year-old runaway accused of the merciless slaughter of thousands of Tutsi refugees in 1994 had been arrested two days earlier on a grape farm in Paarl, near Cape Town.
On the farm, Kayishema, who had a five million US dollar bounty on his arrest, was known simply as “Donatien Nibashumba”.
The clean-shaven fugitive was arrested after an INTERPOL Red Notice that was issued by the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT).
The arrest warrant issued and IRMCT indictment indicates that the fugitive was a police inspector in Rwanda, who allegedly played a significant role in the planning and execution of more than 2 000 people in 1994.
On Wednesday, Kayishema was arrested by the South African Operational Task Team comprising Crime Intelligence, the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Interpol, the Department of Justice, and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) led by the Hawks, Crimes Against the State.
On Friday, Kayishema appeared relaxed when he appeared in court facing charges related to the INTERPOL Red Notice and breaching South African immigration laws.
Kayishema even answered journalists’ questions before the proceeding began, saying: “What I can say, we are sorry to hear what was happening”.
The accused had been on the run for 22 years and didn’t resemble the picture on the most wanted list.
Without denying that the police had arrested the right person, Kayishema added: “There was a civil war in that time and people were killing each other… I didn’t have any role.”
The former police inspector was charged in 2001 over an incident during which more than 2 000 Tutsi men, women, and children were killed inside a Catholic church where they had sought refuge.
However, on Friday during his brief appearance, Kayishema, who wore a blue jacket, waved a blue book with the word “Jesus First” inscribed on the cover.
The bespectacled genocide accused appeared to have turned to God to save him from the predicament he faces.
With photographers clicking away, Kayishema turned his head from side to side as if to give them the best angle for a clear picture.
The court was adjourned to 2 June 2023 and Kayishema will remain in custody.
The NPA later explained that the case was postponed for further investigation.
“While he was being arrested, more information came, which could mean us adding more charges,” NPA provincial spokesperson, Eric Ntabazalila, told journalists.
Ntabazalila said Kayishema will be held at Cape Town’s Pollsmoor Prison ahead of extradition to Rwanda.
If the accused asks for bail, Ntabazalila said prosecutors will oppose such a request.