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Rwanda National Police

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48 arrested in intensified Police operations against illegal mineral trade and theft

Rwanda National Police (RNP) has arrested 48 people in Rulindo and Rwamagana districts, suspected to be members of rackets engaged in illegal mineral trade and theft.

Those arrested in the coordinated operations conducted on Wednesday and Thursday (March 27-28), include 37 suspected thieves, who were stealing minerals from Rutongo and Musha concessions in Rulindo and Rwamagana, respectively, and 11 people, who were buying the minerals from thieves.

"In Rutongo mining concession, Police arrested 33 people, who were found stealing minerals. Police also seized 35kgs of cassiterite from the group, impounded a motorcycle which they were using to transport the stolen minerals as well as traditional tools which they were using in illegal mining activities; and apprehended other three suspected illegal mineral dealers, who were buying minerals from these thieves," the RNP spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Boniface Rutikanga, said.

At Musha mining concession, he added, Police apprehended eight illegal mineral traders, four suspected thieves and seized 14kgs of cassiterite from them.

"These are continuous countrywide operations in response to several cases of illegal mining, theft of minerals from concessions, which are also influenced by illegal mineral buyers, and have impact on the environment and security," ACP Rutikanga said.

In some cases, these illegal mining activities conducted especially at night or during heavy downpour, have ended fatal due to landslides and tilting weak cliffs.

Article 54 of the law No. 58/2018 of 13/08/2018 on mining and quarry operations, states that; any person, who undertakes mineral or quarry exploration, exploitation, processing or trading without a licence, commits an offence.

Upon conviction, the offender is liable to imprisonment for a term of between two and six months and a fine of not less than Frw1 million and not more than Frw5 million or only one of these penalties.

The court also orders confiscation of any seized minerals or quarry in storage, trading or processing without a license.