Rwanda genocide mastermind obtained Malawi passport while in RSA

...accused of killing 2000 people in 1994

...Positani  Chikuse was his Malawian name

A Rwandan genocide mastermind Fulgence Kayishema had a Malawi passport under the name Positani Chikuse, South African court documents have shown.

The court revelations could vindicate Ken Zikhale Ng’oma, Homeland Security Ministers decision to invoke citizenship of some Rwanda and Burundi nationals, as the Department of Immigration stinks with corruption.

ZIkhale Ng’oma has cancelled 396 passports and citizenship given to Rwanda and Burundi but has fallen short of instituting an investigation into how criminals find it easy to obtain Malawi passports.

Malawian passport holders have paid high price in the past decade due to the Immigration Department high level corruption of issuing passports to Nigerians, Rwandans  Burundis and even Chinese nationals, that countries such as the United Kingdom and Ireland introduced visa requirements for Malawians.

Kayishema was arrested on 24 May after 22 years on the run.

Kayishema is accused of taking part in the killing of 2,000 people sheltering inside a Catholic church in one of the 1994 Rwandan genocide’s bloodiest episodes.

He was arrested on Wednesday as he has been using a false name of Donatien Nibashumba on a grape farm in Paarl, 60km (35 miles) north of Cape Town.

South African police said the arrest was made in response to an Interpol red notice. Red notices go out to law enforcement agencies around the world. They seek the location and arrest of fugitives wanted for prosecution or to serve prison sentences.

Entering court on Friday for an initial hearing with a Bible and book emblazoned with “Jesus First”, the 62-year-old was asked by a journalist if he had anything to say to victims.

“What can I say? We are sorry to hear what was happening,” he responded after coming up from holding cells at Cape Town Magistrates’ Court. “It was a war at that time. … I didn’t have any role.”

Kayishema had been a fugitive from justice since 2001 when the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) indicted him for genocide over his alleged role in the destruction of the Nyange Catholic Church in Kibuye prefecture.

More than 800,000 Rwandans, most from the Tutsi ethnic group, were killed during 100 days of violence by forces and vigilantes from the Hutu ethnic group. Thousands of moderate Hutus were also killed in the violence, considered one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.

At the Nyange church, Hutu militia lobbed grenades then doused it with fuel to set it ablaze. When that failed, they knocked down the church with bulldozers, and most of those hiding inside died.

Kayishema faces five charges in South Africa, including two of fraud related to applications he made for asylum and refugee status. The NPA alleges he gave his nationality as Burundian and used a false name.

Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, the successor of the ICTR, told the BBC that Kayishema had fled Rwanda after the genocide and hid among refugees.

“First, he went to the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo] for a number of months. Then he went to a refugee camp in Tanzania. From there, he moved to Mozambique. Then two years later to eSwatini, and then in the late 90s, he ended up in South Africa,” Brammertz said.

While in South Africa, according to court files he obtained a Malawi passport under the name Positani Chikuse and used it to travel between Mozambique and Swaziland.

The prosecution persuaded a small number of former Rwandan soldiers with false identities living in South Africa as refugees to provide information on Kayishema’s whereabouts, he said.

Kayishema is now facing proceedings in the South African court system. Rwanda’s Public Prosecution Authority was quoted in media reports as saying that Kayishema is expected to be transferred first to the IRMCT in Arusha, Tanzania, and then to Rwanda for trial.

When the tribunal closed, the IRMCT was tasked with arresting and prosecuting the nine remaining fugitives it had indicted. It retained jurisdiction over Bizimana, Kabuga, and Mpiranya, while the six remaining cases were referred to Rwandan authorities, including those of Kayishema and Munyarugarama. Three others – Charles Sikubwabo, Aloys Ndimbati, Charles Ryandikayo – remain fugitives.

Additional reporting from BBC,  Al Jazeera and Human Rights Watch websites.

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