Police in Eastern Province have arrested 53 people, including three women, in connection with a spate of cattle theft in various districts of the region.
The suspects are being held at Kigabiro Police Station in Rwamagana District.
According to Police Spokesman, CSP Celestin Twahirwa, most of the suspects were arrested on charges of engaging in organised criminal activity, while others are accused of acting as accomplices.
“There were several confirmed cattle thefts in Nyagatare, Gatsibo and Kayonza districts. There were as many as 80 head of cattle which were stolen over past few months,” he said.
“The crime is so organised that cows are slaughtered and the meat transported in vehicles to Kigali butchers. So, the network is so confusing that owners don’t get traces of their cows. The vigilance with which we have been doing this operation; however, we expect to go to the source of the crime.”
Twahirwa said the suspects face up to two years in jail, plus a fine on conviction.
Meanwhile, some alleged accomplices and meat dealers in Kigali admitted that they enjoyed cheap meat prices.
Speaking from Police, Aloys Nkurunziza, a suspect from Nyabugogo, said the thieves and their accomplices were in constant communication on phone.
“The whole theft is coordinated via mobile phones. Thieves call to tell their clients that meat is ready and buyers send people like me, who are casual labourers. We normally use express buses to carry meat from Nyagatare centre to Kigali,” he said.
Another woman suspect said business had turned lucrative.
“I sell meat in Kigali. We used to buy a kilogramme at between Rwf1,000 and Rwf1,200 instead of Rwf1,500 wholesale price. The price in Kigali is at Rwf1,800, and that profiteering is tempting,” she said.