By Staff writer
Fulgence Kayishema, a former Rwandan police chief and one of the most wanted genocide suspects in the world, has been arrested in South Africa.
Kayishema has been evading capture for more than two decades, living under a false identity until his arrest on Wednesday near Cape Town.
The 62-year-old has been charged with orchestrating the mass murder of over 2,000 people in a church during the Rwandan genocide in April 1994.
South African police, in collaboration with a tracking team from the Rwandan war crimes tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, detained him.
Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor for the tribunal, expressed satisfaction with the arrest.
“Fulgence Kayishema was a fugitive for more than 20 years. His arrest ensures that he will finally face justice for his alleged crimes,” he said.
Brammertz emphasised the gravity of genocide as a crime against humanity and affirmed the international community’s commitment to holding its perpetrators accountable.
Among the 96 individuals indicted by the tribunal, Kayishema was one of the four remaining fugitives and likely the last major suspect still at large.
While the tribunal focused on prosecuting the main culprits, more than 1,000 others are sought by Rwandan prosecutors for their involvement in the genocide, which claimed the lives of over 500,000 people over a period of 100 days.
Brammertz commended the assistance provided by the South African authorities and their commitment to collaboration, acknowledging President Cyril Ramaphosa’s establishment of an operational task team to aid in tracking fugitives.
During the 1994 genocide, Kayishema served as a Hutu police inspector in Rwanda’s Kivumu commune. He stands accused of leading the capture and confinement of Tutsis in a church compound in Nyange, where they sought refuge.
Kayishema’s police force and members of the Hutu Interahamwe militia surrounded the church, launching a brutal attack on the defenceless civilians with machetes and grenades.
The survivors, predominantly women, children, and the elderly, barricaded themselves inside the church for three harrowing days. Eventually, a bulldozer was deployed to demolish the building, burying those trapped inside. Anyone discovered alive amidst the ruins was mercilessly executed.
Throughout his years as a fugitive, Kayishema employed numerous aliases and false documents to conceal his identity and presence, complicating the investigation that spanned multiple African countries and beyond.
Pictured above: Fulgence Kayishema