Eighty-eight people suspected of being behind a series of cattle rustling in the Eastern Province have been arrested in various police operations.
The suspects were on September 21 paraded before residents in Kabarole Sector, Gatsibo District, during a meeting that was presided over by the Minister for Local Government, Francis Kaboneka.
The community security meeting, that brought together residents of Nyagatare and Gatsibo, was also attended by Inspector General of Police, Emmanuel K Gasana, Prosecutor General Richard Muhumuza, and representatives of other security organs.
The suspects were arrested in joint operations conducted in the past one month in response to the recent spate of cattle rustling, especially in the districts of Gatsibo, Nyagatare and Kayonza.
In a similar security meeting held early last month, authorities pledged to break the chain and bring suspects to book, calling for reinforcement of community policing.
According to police records, cattle rustling is not a security threat so far, but even if it remains at a small scale, it must be prevented and fought decisively.
“As we promised, anyone who attempts to destabilise peace in whichever way will not be tolerated. This is why all concerned institutions work together tirelessly to deliver on your request of bringing to book those suspected of cattle rustling,” Minister Kaboneka told the residents.
He further pledged government support in ensuring their improved welfare but appealed for more partnership in ensuring that security is preserved.
“The Government is committed to seeing you accumulate wealth but that can only be achieved if you take it upon yourselves to have safe and secure communities. You should condemn and confront anyone who stands in your way to prosperity. Confront them with realities and facts on the ground and you will win,” Minister Kaboneka said.
IGP Gasana said investigations and operations are still going on to track and arrest anyone connected to this crime.
“The operations are largely possible because of the good existing partnership with you through community policing and it’s the power of information sharing that led to the arrest of these suspects and recovery of the stolen cows,” IGP Gasana said.
He hastened to add that Rwanda is safe and secure today because of collaboration between citizens, security organs and other institutions.
“To preserve this safety we enjoy today, we must strengthen cooperation and collaboration and develop a sense of ownership.”
Prosecutor General Richard Muhumuza told residents that such cases will no longer be handled by village mediators but will instead be prosecuted and tried in courts of law.
Available statistics indicate that from November last year to August this year, about 100 cows had been stolen in Nyagatare alone, of which the majority have since been recovered.
At least all the 17 cows that were stolen in Kayonza this month have been recovered and seven people arrested in connection with the act.
Police said case files of all the suspects have been completed and forwarded to prosecution.