Rwanda: Over 68,000 Punished for Violating Covid-19 Directives

Data from the Ministry of Local Government show that 68,920 people countrywide were punished between July 17 to 31, after being found disobeying national directives put in place to flatten the Covid-19 curve.

The numbers were released Monday, three days following the largest daily arrest of over 2,000 people on Friday, July 31.

This is the first time such data is published after Police revealed they will take tougher measures against people who violate directives meant to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

The largest cluster of 27, 297 people was caught without wearing facemasks. Putting on protective masks while in public is mandatory.

A total of 23,401 people went past curfew while 12,001 did not obey the recommended 1-meter physical distancing.

Another 6,234 people were arrested while drinking in more than 1,600 bars that were found operating.

Over 2,700 vehicles were impounded.

In addition, 25 village leaders and Isibo cluster heads were found on the wrong side of law.

In the City of Kigali, the most repeat offense is violating the curfew. 3,280 people were caught past 9pm curfew. 1,265 were caught without masks on.

A similar pattern was observed in the Eastern Province where 5,715 people were punished because they were not in their homes by 9pm.

The Western and the Southern Provinces recorded the highest number of bars closed and people caught there.

Not wearing facemasks is the most common offense in the Northern, the Southern and the Western provinces.

Fines and arrests

When caught, those who violate curfew are arrested and taken to various centers in the country where they spend the night until 5am when the curfew ends.

According to the Rwandan National Police (RNP), the centres are used as awareness grounds where those caught are educated on the government directives on Covid-19 prevention as well as recommended safety and hygiene practices.

In Kigali, people found without facemasks are reportedly asked to pay Rwf10,000 of fine.

One Valens Iradukunda in Burera District, Northern Province was fined Rwf5,000. Recently, Ruhango District in the south announced a fine of Rwf1,000.

Vehicles impounded past curfew are confiscated for at least 30 days and the driver has to pay a fine of Rwf25,000.

As per prevention guidelines, taxi moto operators are required to disinfect passenger helmets and provide passengers with a hand sanitizer.

An operator who wished to remain anonymous said that, if caught having disobeyed one of the above measures, the taxi-motor driver pays a Rwf25,000 fine.

On Saturday, RNP spokesperson, CP John Bosco Kabera described the violations as "inappropriate and risky practices and culture", warning that there is no room to be complacent in this critical period.

He said that after violators spend a night in these centres, they are followed up to ensure that they learned.

RNP recently started a digital record of violators to ensure repeat offenders are severely penalised.

The spokesperson further cautioned people who invite others for house parties and other unnecessary gatherings. He identified these violations as major risks for Covid-19 infections.

Five days earlier, Kabera had revealed that most violations are witnessed during weekends.

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