UCT management has expressed its shock at the details surrounding the arrest of contract researcher Charles William Pape, the pseudonym of American fugitive James Kilgore, by the South African Police at his home in Claremont two weeks ago.
Pape, who is reported to have received a PhD from the Australian Deaken University while living in Zimbabwe, was appointed as contract researcher at UCT on January 1, 1998. He came with an established reputation and was well known in his field.
Pape was appointed as a senior researcher at the International Labour Resource and Information Group (ILRIG), which conducts research into international labour issues and is based in Salt River. Highly regarded as an academic, his colleagues expressed surprise at the allegations.
As James Kilgore, he had been on the run from the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for the past 27 years. He is alleged to be the leader and last remaining member at large of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a radical group that committed politically motivated crimes in the US in the 1970s. These include the kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst and the shooting of Myrna Opsahl during a failed bank robbery.
He is facing the possibility of being extradited to the US, where he could face charges of murder, kidnapping and possession of bombs. The day before his arrest, his co-accused in the bank robbery and Opsahl's death Sara Olson, Emily Montague, Bill Harris and Michael Bortin pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. In a plea agreement, they are to receive sentences of between six and eight years.
Pape/Kilgore has been described as a â€œchampion of the poorâ€ and as â€œone of Cape Town's leading intellectual lightsâ€ by associates and friends.