Police in Karongi District have impounded a vehicle loaded with 840kgs of smuggled coltan and cassiterite minerals.
The minerals were allegedly smuggled from a concession in Nyamasheke District and were being transported to Kigali, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Bonaventure Twizere Karekezi, the Police spokesperson for the Western region, said.
"The vehicle; Toyota Land Cruiser plate number RAB 524N, was intercepted Sunday in Karongi District, Rugabano Sector in Bucyimba Cell. The minerals were concealed in 12 sacks, each weighing 70kgs," CIP Karekezi said.
The driver identified as Jonas Nshimiyimana, 39, was taken into custody alongside two other people, who were on board, he added.
“Police officers were conducting routine checks at a roadblock when they discovered that the vehicle was loaded with sacks of minerals and the driver didn’t have legal documents allowing him to transport the minerals. The vehicle was immediately impounded,” Karekezi said.
He added: "Some of the documents the driver was found with were expired while others indicated a mismatch. For example, the receipt offered by Callianes Limited, a mining company operating in Kanjongo sector, Nyamasheke District, indicated 20 sacks but he had 12. He also tried to show documents, which expired last year."
According to Karekezi, besides having no transportation papers, the "mode of transporting the minerals also contravened the guidelines as they are supposed to be transported in a container not in private vehicles."
“These are fraudulent dealings which are aimed at tax evasion. Minerals are supposed to be tagged before they are transported by licensed dealers or companies in a specified manner,” Karekezi said.
The interception came two days after police in the same region, Rubavu District, arrested one, Maombi Bahati crossing into Rwanda from the DR Congo through Goma border post in Rubavu (la corniche), with smuggled white coltan, which weighed 155kgs stashed in the car bonnet.
“The law is clear; for you to deal in mineral trade you have to be licensed or given authorization documents. The vehicle transporting the minerals should also bear supporting documents and minerals must be tagged to trace their originality,” the spokesperson said.
Article 54 of the law on mining and quarry operations, states that “any person, who undertakes mineral or quarry exploration, exploitation, processing or trading without a license commits an offense."
Upon conviction, the offender is liable to imprisonment for a term of between two and six months and a fine of not less than Rwf1 million and not more than Rwf5 million or only one of these penalties.