Their arrest on December 8, followed the seizure of over 600 kilograms of various minerals from them, believed to have been obtained illegally.
Police identified the suspects as Jean Ngabonzima, 36, Jean Baptist Habimanab, 31, Epimaque Nzungize, 34, Jean Chrisostome Ngabonzima, 40, and Joseline Itangishaka, 37.
The District Police Commander, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Marc Gasangwa, who confirmed the arrest, said that “investigations have been instituted to establish the source of the valuable metals.”
“We received information from residents that the group was suspected to be possessing minerals, whose source was not known,” SSP Gasangwa said.
The suspects are not minerals, according to the DPC.
“Acting on the information, we conducted a targeted operation, we recovered 6,935kgs of various minerals that were not tagged, from the suspects,” he added.
The minerals recovered include coltan, trolamine and cassiterite.
Trolamine is used as an ingredient in sunscreens, analgesic creams, and cosmetics.
He said that in most previous cases, such minerals were found to have been mined illegally or stolen from stores of legitimate miners.
The DPC thanked the residents for the community policing act, and warned against unlawful mineral dealings and illegal mining activities in particular.
In a related, one person was reported dead after he was covered by a cliff while illegally mining coltan.
SSP Gasangwa referred to Article 1 of the Ministerial Regulations No001/Minifom/2011 relating to fighting smuggling in mineral trading that stipulates in part that nobody is allowed to purchase or sell minerals without commercial registration.
Article 4 of the same instrument indicates that transportation of minerals outside mining licensed areas (concessions and permits perimeters) is only allowed, when the consignment shows the source mine, its value and when it has the right tag.
Article 438 of the penal code, stipulates that; “Any person who undertakes illegal research or illegally carries out commercial activities in valuable minerals, shall be liable to imprisonment of six months to one year and a fine of up to Rwf10 million.”