The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."--Mahatma Ghandi
On Tuesday morning, we attend a live Gacaca court trial a half-hour drive from Kigali. Pronounced "ga-cha-cha," this community-based court system translates loosely into English as "justice on the grass." Before the trial, we attend a briefing session on the Gacaca system by Dennis Bikesha, the Director for Gacaca Training and Coordination in Kigali. Dennis tells us that the purpose of the Gacaca court is to try the category two and three offenses of murder, bodily injury, and property damage that occurred during the 1994 genocide. Those accused of category one crimes, which include planning and organizing the genocide and rape, or ordering rape, are tried elsewhere.
Prior to the genocide, the Gacaca system of justice was used only for family disputes. It has been modified due to the need to bring to justice the more than 100,000 prisoners that, as of 2000, clogged the traditional courts and prisons. Our interpreter notes, "Without Gacaca courts, it would take over one hundred years to try all of our prisoners."