Rwanda: Rulindo - Police Officers Uncover Underground Tunnels Used By Mineral Thieves

During intensified operations against criminal gangs engaged in illegal mineral trade and theft, the Rwanda National Police (RNP) uncovered underground tunnels in two residential houses in Gasenga village, Kivugiza cell of Masoro sector in Rulindo District, which were being used by illegal miners to steal cassiterite from a nearby concession.

Nine people were arrested during the operations conducted on Saturday, March 30. Police are also still searching for owners of the two houses who are suspected to be the ringleaders who fled during the operation.

Superintendent of Police (SP) Jean Bosco Mwiseneza, the Northern Region Police spokesperson, said that the tunnels, stretching for about 200 metres, were connecting the two houses to a nearby Mahaza stream where they were mining and stealing cassiterite minerals.

At about 5p.m, SP Mwiseneza said, Police officers went to the two houses and "found a tunnel in each of the two neighbouring houses covered with iron bars and a mat, crossing the road to Mahaza stream, about 200 metres from the houses."

"All the nine suspects were found in the two houses, some of them had just returned from mining through the same dangerous tunnels," SP Mwiseneza said.

Police also seized from the suspects some quantities of cassiterite mineral, different traditional tools such as iron bars, spades, hummers, weighing scales, helmets; and 15 kilos of honey, which they were consuming while mining.

"These activities are not only illegal but they are also dangerous; with high fatality risks," said the spokesperson.

Five of the suspects who entered the tunnel earlier, at about 4a.m, got stuck inside due to lack of oxygen, but were rescued by their colleagues at about 3p.m.

The arrest came few days after similar operations in Rutongo and Musha mining concessions in Rulindo and Rwamagana districts, respectively, where 48 people (37 mineral thieves and 11 illegal mineral traders) were arrested.

Article 54 of the 2018 law 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 Rwf1 million and not more than Rwf5 million or only one of these penalties.

AllAfrica publishes around 400 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.