Security organs in partnership with Rwanda Standards Bureau (RSB) have closed a brewery plant in Muhima Sector, Nyarugenge District, which was operating illegally.
The distillation plant called Herboristerie Maranatha Hema Ltd was producing Kambuca, an alcoholic drink that is said to be substandard and toxic. At least 10,000 litres of Kambuca were also seized during the operation conducted on Tuesday.
Police spokesperson for the City of Kigali, Senior Superintendent of Police Emmanuel Hitayezu, said that the owner of the plant, identified as Martin Maniraguha, was operating illegally without a license.
“The brew was disposed of and the owner will be penalised as the law prescribes. We also arrested nine dealers in Kimisagara Sector, who were allegedly adding more toxic substances in Kambuca to make it more concentrated, which made it more deadly,” SSP Hitayezu explained.
“Such substances are dangerous to human health and sometimes can lead to death or permanent brain damage of the consumer; we have witnessed such disasters in the recent past where even people have died,” he added.
It has since been proved that some of the locally and illegally distilled brews are laced with substances that may be toxic to a human body. Some of those substances added include surgical spirit to increase its alcoholic content.
A case in point is an incident that happened recently where people died or became permanently blind after consuming the substances.
Eight people died recently in Kigali, Nyakabanda and Kimisagara sectors, all in Nyarugenge, after consuming deadly illicit brew.
According to Hitayezu, sometimes people who consume such substances have ended up in trenches, especially in Kimisagara, Gatsata and Muhima, where some have died and their bodies discovered later.
“We call upon the general public to stop consuming these illicit substances. They are unsafe, unhygienic and poisonous. We also call for continued cooperation and sharing of information on people involved in distilling these toxic drinks to that they are arrested.”
All drinks with alcoholic content exceeding 45 per cent as well as all those without the standard mark (S-Mark) issued by Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) are classified as narcotics.
Article 594 of the penal code stipulates that any person who, unlawfully, makes, transforms, imports, or sells narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances within the country, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to Rwf5 million.
Rwanda National Police and RBS have since last year been conducting operations across the country against illegal distilleries or those licensed but disregarding the standards. As a result, hundreds of them have been closed.
RSB specifies that “only food grade processing aids recognized as safe for human consumption shall be used during the manufacture.”
Other standard requirements include labeling is also a prerequisite; the name of the products, physical and postal address of manufacturer; net contents in milliliters or liters; ethyl alcohol content; date of manufacture and expiry date; storage instruction; statutory warnings; and list of ingredients in descending order.