Residents of Musheri Sector in Nyagatare District have vowed to cooperate in the war against drug trafficking and illegal border crossing by sharing information with authorities.
Musheri is one of the 14 sectors that make up Nyagatare District. It borders Uganda and for many years it has been conduit for notorious drug traffickers as well as smugglers.
The traffickers largely engage in the trading of illicit gin, known as Kanyanga.
They call themselves Abafutuzi, and import the gin from Uganda, which is within spitting distance.
Angelique Tuyisenge, a resident of Musheri, says the traffickers are usually violent.
“One day, I was stabbed by a ‘Mufutuzi’ as I attempted to rescue a young girl he was trying to rape,” she noted showing a huge scar on her arm.
“I am now glad that the Police has increased efforts to fight these criminals and has been arresting them.”
She, like some other residents, has survived several attacks by illicit drug traffickers. And young girls have often been victims of these violent criminals.
“I know five traffickers in our village, there is also one who raped a nine-year old girl. He is currently in prison. I believe he did it because he was high on illicit brew,” she added.
Tuyisenge has requested local authorities to provide a phone number through which residents can report and share information about cases of abuse and drug trafficking.
Boniface Samvura, another resident, said that the consequences of drug abuse and trafficking in the district have been far-reaching, ranging from fights to domestic violence and men selling off family property without the consent of their wives.
Sharon Uwase, another resident, said that some traffickers have been arrested but many still remain at large.
“They used to trade openly but now the number of those who do it has reduced, and do it in hiding,” she said.
Fred Mufulukye, the Governor of Eastern Province, says that the region is on course to win the battle against drug trafficking but called for more cooperation from the locals.
“There are some who are still involved in drug trafficking and illegal border crossing. The reason is that it had been a habit for people in this area for a long time, we will therefore keep on educating them that drugs are harmful, and that there are laws punishing both drug abuse and illegal crossing of borders,” he said.
Chief Superintendent of Police Francis Muheto, the Deputy Regional Police Commander, said that from January to June this year, the country destroyed illicit drugs worth more than Rwf60 million.