Local leaders call for harsher penalties on illicit brewers

KIREHE/KAYONZA-Local leaders in Kayonza and Kirehe districts have called for tougher punishments against people found guilty of brewing the banned alcoholic beverage locally known as Kanyanga. The grassroots leaders argue that the practice is encouraged when culprits are set free after parting with small fines in courts.

KIREHE/KAYONZA-Local leaders in Kayonza and Kirehe districts have called for tougher punishments against people found guilty of brewing the banned alcoholic beverage locally known as Kanyanga.

The grassroots leaders argue that the practice is encouraged when culprits are set free after parting with small fines in courts.

According to article 272 and 273 of the Penal Code, illicit brew suspects are fined Rwf 250,000 or jailed for sentences of up to five years upon conviction. However, convicts normally opt to pay the fines.

Marie-Louis Uwineza, the Executive Secretary of Bakora cell in Kirehe District, told The New Times yesterday that the immediate release of Kanyanga dealers was frustrating their efforts in combating crimes among communities.

She described such fines as soft punishment.

“The only way we can eliminate illicit brewers is by handing culprits heavy punishments. The soft option often offered by court fines won’t do us any good. Kanyanga dealers and other drug abusers should be handed maximum punishments,” she said.

Nepomscene Sinderibuye, 56, a resident of Kabarondo Sector in Kayonza District, said that those found guilty of dealing in Kanyanga should be closely monitored for a specified period.

“They are are known criminals,” he said, citing one, Emmanuel Mbonigaba of Kabura Sector in Kaborondo, who he said is a notorious brewer.

“He has been in court several times. But what happens? He is fined and let free to go back to brew Kanyanga...such people should be kept in prison,” he said.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Sam Karemera, the Regional Police Commander of the Eastern Province, similarly echoed the need for tough punishment for Kanyanga dealers.

He said that police records show that similar criminals have appeared in court on related charges.

“The fines are not deterrent enough...we have informed the court officials about our worries. Kanyanga brewers and dealers are in lucrative business, so they can’t be scared by Rwf 250.000 as a fine. It is a question of contextualising the issue by stakeholders,” he said.

The illicit brew has been earmarked as the main cause of gender based violence and child abuse.

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