Five suspected illegal miners including two women have been arrested in Rutsiro district following a joint operation conducted in Rusebeya Sector on August 9.
Police also recovered 1438kgs of cassiterite and 702kgs of Coltan from the suspects.
The District Police Commander (DPC) of Rutsiro, Supt. Boniface Kagenza identified the suspects as Emmanuel Sindibona, Margaritte Mukaleta, Cyprien Munyakirambi, Emerance Ntibiringirwa and Vedaste Munyentwari.
“This is part of police operations particularly to fight illegal mining and environmental degradation in general,” Supt. Kagenza said.
“We had information from members of the public that there are some people behind this illegal act of mining; they send others to go in mining concessions especially at night and in turn buy these minerals from them,” he added.
“So, acting on this credible information, we conducted the operation where we arrested five people suspected to be at the helm of this unlawful business, but in the due course, we also arrested another man identified as Aloys Barayahanga after we found him in possession of 2000 litres of locally made illicit brew.”
All the suspects are currently detained at Gihango Police Station as investigations continue.
Rutsiro is one of the districts with many mining concessions, especially in the sectors of Rusebeya, Manihira and Murunda, where illegal mining is also considered to be still high.
The DPC thanked the residents for their partnership in crime prevention and in fighting illegal mining in particular.
“Mining has its procedures and laws that have to be followed; mining and selling minerals is done by licenced companies and people.”
Undertaking illegal research or commercial activities in valuable minerals attracts a jail term of up to one year and a fine of between Rwf3 million and Rwf10 million or one of these penalties, under article 438 of the penal code.
Rwanda National Police (RNP) established, last year, the Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) which has been instrumental in enforcing the law, preservation of environment through environmental education, practical interpretation of the environmental laws to citizens and engaging in the public environment management awareness campaign.