Police arrested a man in Kimironko yesterday after he was found with an array of counterfeit products, among them major mineral water and gin brands.
Nil water brand, of Sulfo Rwanda Industries was the most affected, although the suspect admitted to also counterfeiting Inyange mineral water of Inyange Industries.
Ugandan liquor brands such as African Lion Gin, Super Gin and Buffalo Gin are among his counterfeits.
Whereas the suspect says that he works alone, police deduced that he could be operating in a ring that has managed to infiltrate the market with dangerous counterfeits that cannot easily be detected.
“This is a dangerous offence that puts people’s lives at risk,” Modeste Mbabazi, Police spokesman for the City of Kigali, said shortly after the suspect had been arrested.
“We will carry out more investigations and ensure that this illegal act is wiped out. We urge the public to work with us to eliminate counterfeits.”
At the suspect’s home, the compound was littered with cartons of mineral water and gin sealed with tape, ready to infiltrate the market.
In order to avoid the taxman, the 32-year-old suspect had also counterfeited tax stamps, which he pasted on the gin products to prevent any suspicions.
“He used his rented house in Kimironko as a “factory” where he filled mineral water bottles with tap water and then sealed the bottles with covers he imported from Uganda. He also imported jerry cans of ethanol which he diluted with water and then filled bottles which have clear labels,” Mbabazi said.
Jishid Kakkadath, the Assistant Marketing Manager of Sulfo Rwanda Industries, told The New Times that the vice was not only affecting Sulfo but the entire manufacturing sector in Rwanda.
“We noticed this problem and we are investigating similar cases in Rwamagana and several other areas,” Kakkadath said.
“We are in the process of making new bottle-tops with our logo, so that criminals find it hard to counterfeit out products.”
Once convicted, the suspect will serve between two and five years, according to the penal code articles 378 and 382, or pay a fine not exceeding Rwf10 million and not below Rwf1 million or both.
In June, Police impounded counterfeit goods worth millions of francs in an operation dubbed “Operation Whip Out”.