Police in Eastern Province have warned residents against illicit brews, noting that the problem of distilling illegal alcohol commonly known as Kanyanga was on the increase.
Emmanuel Kayigi, the Eastern regional Police spokesperson, issued the warning following a Tuesday operation in which at least five ‘factories’ that distilled the illicit alcohol in Kimaranzara Village, Rilima Sector in Bugesera District, were exposed.
The operation, that also involved grassroots leaders, saw more than 1,600 of litres of the brew which was being distilled in various homes impounded.
“We are carrying out a thorough investigation into the cases. Our operation is going to take longer; it’s a slow, but steady operation that will not leave any stone unturned. Despite efforts to stop the use of the brew, some people have gone even further to distill it. The Rilima case tells the whole story,” he said.
Assaulting area leaders
Previously, it was widely believed that the brew was being imported from neighbouring countries, especially Uganda.
Kayigi said the suspects had gone to the extent of resisting arrest due to the lenience with which some local leaders treated them.
He said distillers of alcohol in Rilima who beat and injured a village leader would be punished severely.
“A village leader was injured by the distillers in Rilima and is currently hospitalised. They (Kanyanga dealers) have ‘grown horns’. The reason is simple; they are used to giving bribes and set free, but not anymore, We shall wipe this vice out,” he said.
Kayigi said Eastern Province was highly affected by the illicit alcohol mainly due to porous borders, noting that some local people connived with fraudsters across the borders to smuggle the alcohol into the country.
“We don’t want to pin-point anybody at this moment, but we are holding a local leader recently arrested in Kiramuruzi Sector in Gatsibo District. He was found consuming the illicit alcohol in his area of control so you don’t expect such a person to help fight the vice,” he said.
The officer added that areas like Bugesera have several water bodies that are shared with neighbouring countries, adding that smugglers exploit such water bodies.
However, residents who spoke to The New Times, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said Kanyanga was a lucrative business that would not end.
“It’s not easy to stop the business, Many people who should be fighting it are the biggest beneficiaries, so how will they fight it?” a resident of Kiramuruzi Sector said.