Police in Nyaruguru District, on Monday, June 22 intercepted at least 363kgs of smuggled and untagged minerals from two illegal dealers.
Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Sylvestre Twajamahoro, the Police spokesperson for the Southern region, identified the smugglers as Innocent Celestin Bizimana, 32, and Venuste Bagayuwitunze, 64.
He said that the minerals were seized from the duo in two separate operations.
“Bizimana and Bagayuwitunze work together in illegal trade of minerals. Following information that they had brought new mineral consignments, targeted operations were conducted and the 363kgs minerals, combine, were recovered in their respective houses in Nteko Cell, Busanze Sector," CIP Twajamahoro explained.
It is said that the minerals were sneaked into Rwanda recently from a neighbouring country, through an illegal border point.
CIP Twajamahoro warned people who are involved in illegal mining, smuggling and trade activities.
“These are fraudulent dealings aimed at tax evasion. Minerals are supposed to be tagged before they are transported by licensed dealers or companies,” he said
“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.
He further observed that such unlawful activities involving "unnecessary movements and illegal cross-border" in this period can be the source COVID-19 infections. Borders are closed as one of the government devised measures to contain the pandemic of COVID-19.
The government also advises against unnecessary movements in this period of the pandemic.
Article 1 of the Ministerial Regulations No 001/Minifom/2011 relating to fighting smuggling in mineral trading stipulates that nobody is allowed to purchase or sell minerals without commercial registration.
Article 3 forbids “importation of minerals into Rwanda without proper documents indicating their origin and the weight at origin, given by the right authorities.”
These minerals have to be with required trade documents, and to be certified and tagged by competent authorities.
Equally, article 4 provides that transportation of minerals outside mining licensed areas—concessions and permits perimeters—is only allowed, when the consignment shows the source mine, its value and when it has the right tag.
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 licence commits an offence.”
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.
The court also orders confiscation of any seized minerals or quarry in storage, trading or processing without a licence.