The Police are working closely with manufactures to crack down on counterfet products, Senior Superintendent of Police Urbain Mwiseneza has revealed.
Mwiseneza was speaking on Tuesday following an exercise codenamed "Operation Whip Out" aimed at deterring the inflow of counterfeit products across the region.
Officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Rwanda Bureau of Standards, Interpol, the Rwanda Development Board, the Rwanda Utility and Regulation Authority, and representatives of global brands took part in the operation.
"Upon receiving information that someone is counterfeiting their products, manufacturers tip us off and we swing into action immediately," Mwiseneza said.
"The exercise is line with the East African and Southern African Police Chiefs Committee's recommendations that focus on eradicating illegal trade and counterfeit products across the region," Mwiseneza added.
Mwiseneza, who heads the operation in Rwanda, said police had deployed a special team to conduct this exercise across the country.
Culprits will have to pay the penalty in accordance with the law and some could have their businesses closed down once investigations are concluded.
Rwanda Bureau of Standards has deployed officers at all border posts in a bid to deter the inflow of counterfeits, Jean de Dieu Kamurase, the agency industrial inspector said.
The Police have in the recent past impounded counterfeit goods worth millions of francs as efforts geared at eliminating sub-standard and fake products on the market gather momentum.
Products ranging from television sets, computers and accessories to textile, home appliances, beverages, sportswear, cosmetics and foodstuffs were impounded by the Police in the City of Kigali. The firms whose products were counterfeited include Sharp, Johnson and Son Kenya Limited, Nike, Uniliver, HP and Nike.
"Police will continue working with business owners and other stakeholders to ensure that those selling counterfeit products are apprehended," he added.
Mwiseneza said the impounded goods would be destroyed and the culprits aligned in courts of law.
He called on the public to watch out for fake products and report any suspicious products found on the market.
Kamurase said government had a responsibility to protect the public and genuine businesses from illegal trade and counterfeit products.
"Selling fake products is illegal and punishable by law. They expose consumers to healthy risks, and promote unfair trade that affects the profitability of companies," Kamurase said.
Manufactures hail move:
Oelof Duploo, the Nike brand investigator for sub-Saharan Africa, said the company had been experiencing a drop in sales because some unscrupulous people were duplicating its products and selling them illegally as genuine goods.
"We are happy that the Police in Rwanda have come out to fight this illegal trade. This move will build confidence among companies, encouraging them to invest in the country," Duploo said.
Allan Ngugi, the anti-counterfeit officer at the SC Johnson and Son Kenya Limited, said counterfeit products stifle genuine businesses and, therefore, should never be let to thrive in any market.
Sources that spoke to this newspaper blamed the Democratic Republic of Congo for becoming a transit hub for counterfeit products.
There is also compelling evidence that some counterfeit products were manufactured within the region, including fake milk powder and textile products.
According to the Penal Code Article 342, anybody caught selling counterfeit products or involved in illegal trade, will have their business closed and are also liable to a fine of between Rwf20m and Rwf100m, or serve a jail term or both, on conviction.