The police has called on manufactures to report people who counterfeit their goods as they step up operations to curb the crime that is threatening loss of revenue to entrepreneurs, as local companies such as Sulfo Rwanda are also falling victim to the crime.
Mid last month a joint operation of police, 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 an operation called 'Operation Whip out' in which several counterfeit products were seized and criminal cases opened against the culprits.
The seized goods included television sets, computers and accessories, textile, home appliances, beverages, sportswear, cosmetics and foodstuff. The firms whose products were counterfeited include Sharp, Johnson and Johnson Kenya, Uniliver, HP and Nike.
Local companies like Sulfo, Azam Industries, Dull, Techno and Royco took part in the operation although not many of their products were seized in the operation.
Supt. vEdward Kiiza from the Criminal Investigations Department of the police says that the culprits who were nabbed with the counterfeit goods will be charged under the articles 376 and 377 of the penal code law that stipulate imprisonment of 2 to 5 years and fines of Frw 2 to 10 million.
"We have not received a lot of complainants about counterfeit products but that does not mean it doesn't happen. We will carry out such operations so that we curb this crime," Supt Kizza said, calling upon manufacturers to report any people who counterfeit their goods.
Arrested counterfeiters on bail disappear
Yet although the police is keen to fight the crime, Atma Prakash, sales and marketing director at Sulfo Rwanda Industries, says that people who counterfeit their products are harming the country's reputation as a good business environment.
Prakash says that in the 51 years that Sulfo has been in the country, their products had never been duplicated until early this year when they got reports that someone was counterfeiting the company's brands in Gitarama and selling them cheaply.
"We immediately notified the police who intercepted a pickup full of counterfeit glycerine that was being illegally manufactured in Gitarama and sold in Musambira market," Prakash says.
After apprehending the suspects, they were arraigned in court and given bail, but since April they haven't reported to court yet, which Prakash points out is a violation of the law.