Police yesterday ordered the closure of a city bar for allegedly allowing nudity and selling alcohol to children under the age of 18. The Kimihurura-based Lebanese Bar and Restaurant was also faulted for drug abuse and unlawful public smoking involving minors.
The proprietor of the restaurant located in Umutekano Cell, Kimihurura Sector of Gasabo District has been arrested.
Hassan Jamool was apprehended on Saturday at about 1:00am after police found a group of 25 minors, 22 of them girls, in the bar-side which also acts as a night club of the restaurant, taking liquors.
According to SP Modeste Mbabazi, the Police spokesperson in the City of Kigali, 23 underage girls and three boys were found abusing alcohol and drugs in the bar.
“These were very young girls and boys. We found them smoking Shisha, and drinking alcohol, in the night club, which is against the law. Some of them were half-naked,” said Mbabazi.
He added that the children have been handed back to their parents because they are minors who cannot be charged under the law.
“We could not arrest them, like we have arrested the bar operator. These are innocent young children. But we have asked their parents to advise them accordingly,” Mbabazi added.
Lebanese Bar is known for having the “best” Shisha in town.
Shisha is a multi-stemmed flavoured tobacco smoked using hookah water pipes.
Mapambano Nyiridirida the executive secretary of Kimihurura sector said that: “The bar operators have allowed shisha smokers to do it public, which is against the law. We told bar operators not to allow underage entrants, and it shows this bar did not comply with our advice.”
Sunday Times however found a poster at the bar entrances that reads: NO CHILDREN UNDER THE AGES OF 18 ALLOWED TO ENTER THE BAR. DEFAULTERS SHALL BE PUNISHED BY LAW.
Mbabazi said that Police together with local leaders met with bar operators and advised them to stick to ethical business standards, but the call was largely ignored.
“So we decided to conduct undercover operation to deal with the vice before it could get out of hand,” said Mbabazi.
Hassan Jamul, the proprietor, claimed business rivalry was behind the closure of his business.
“I have done nothing wrong; I came to Rwanda to invest my money. I had two branches, one in Gikondo and another one in Kimihurura,” he said.
“These things happen anywhere, this is in not the only bar we have people smoking Shisha, or allowing young people inside,” said Jamul.
He said that the bar employs one bouncer at the entrance who cannot scrutinise the age of every person who enters. “The truth is, we don’t allow young people in here, “Jamul said.
In December 2011, a directive was re-enforced to stop minors, that is persons of 18 years and below, from entering bars and consume alcohol.
Article 219 of the Penal Code states that anyone who offers or sells alcoholic beverages or tobacco to a child or involves a child in the sale of such products shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of at least three months (but not more than six months) and a fine of Rwf300,000 to Rwf1,000,000.
Article 428 partly states that any person who unlawfully smokes in public and in any other place where many people gather; shall be liable to a fine of Rwf10,000 to Rwf50,000.