Woman arrested with cocaine worth Rwf45m

A 47-year-old woman travelling on a British passport was on Saturday evening arrested at Kigali International Airport, in possession of a kilogramme of cocaine, estimated to be worth Rwf45 million.  
Hasifa Ddungu shields her face from cameras at Kacyiru Police Headquarters in Kigali yesterday. (Timothy Kisambira)
Hasifa Ddungu shields her face from cameras at Kacyiru Police Headquarters in Kigali yesterday. (Timothy Kisambira)

A 47-year-old woman travelling on a British passport was on Saturday evening arrested at Kigali International Airport, in possession of a kilogramme of cocaine, estimated to be worth Rwf45 million.

Hasifa Ddungu, born in Uganda, was in transit en route to Entebbe, Uganda, from Burundi.

She had two sealed plastic packets of cocaine underneath her clothes, Police said. The substance was detected during routine screening before her next flight.

She was paraded before the media yesterday at Police Headquarters in Kacyiru, Kigali. 

ACP Theos Badege, the Commissioner for Criminal Investigation Department (CID), told journalists that the suspect will be handed over to prosecution today.

“She was caught by our security officers at the Airport with a kilogramme of cocaine. Investigations continue but she will be handed over to prosecution tomorrow (today) to face the law,” said Badege.

Article 594 of the penal code states that any person who, unlawfully, makes, transforms, imports, or sells narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances within the country, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of three to five years and/or a fine of Rwf500,000 to Rwf5 million or both.

However, if the offences indicated in this article are committed internationally, the penalties shall be doubled. That means that the suspect, if proven guilty, may serve up to 10 years in prison and/or fined up to Rwf10 million.

Badege said the law enforcers, as a result of the case, had contacted their counterparts in Burundi, Uganda and the UK to trace the chain of drug trafficking.

“We expect to hear from them, to co-operate and detect the chain of these drug traffickers. This is the only way we can stop drug dealers,” Badege said.   

Amb. William Gelling, the British High Commissioner to Rwanda, told The New Times, that his government would “co-operate…in a bid to fight drug trafficking.”

The envoy said in an email that they were aware of the case and were following closely.  “We will co-operate on request,” he stated.

The suspect did not deny nor admit wrongdoing, only saying that she needed a lawyer.

Gelling further said that the British high commission would provide the suspect with consular assistance on request, including a list of available lawyers. “However, we would not provide a lawyer ourselves,” he said.

She becomes the first cocaine trafficking suspect arrested in Kigali since 2007, according to police reports.

 “We have not had a lot of cocaine cases in Rwanda; the common cases are cannabis and Kanyanga (an illegal local brew). We have always used community policing mechanisms to fight drug abuse in the country and we continue to invite public partnership in the fight against drug abuse and smuggling,” said Badege.

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