Rwanda National Police has strengthened it measures to curb smuggling and other cross border crimes which is in line with its commitment to cooperate with other police institutions and policing organizations to jointly ensure a safer world.
It is estimated that around 22,000 people cross the Rubavu-Goma border every day as they are involved in cross-border trade. However, there are reports of those that use porous borders to smuggle in products.
Detailing efforts put in fighting cross border crimes, Rubavu District Police Commander (DPC) Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Callixte Kalisa, pointed out that Rwanda is one of the few countries on the continent that have installed I-24/7 tool to all her border posts.
“We share this database with customs – Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) – and Immigration. Customs have access to ‘Rwanda Single Window’ that helps them to identify if for example an imported vehicle was stolen while Immigration has access to ‘Travel March’ which allows them to identify if individuals entering or leaving the country are wanted in any country, if they are traveling on forged on revoked documents,” he said.
The Rubavu District Police Unit has several vehicles impounded, some baring foreign plate numbers which police says they were either found with no proper papers, involved in illegal activities or involved in accidents and had no insurance, many stolen vehicles were intercepted at this border post and returned to the rightful owners.
Furthermore, the measures in place include enhanced cooperation between the Rwandan National Police and the Congolese police force that has resulted into arrest of smugglers and other criminals on different occasions.
Majority of the seized smuggled items include Kitenge cloths, salsa, second hand clothes, liquors, rice, powdered milk and body oil among others.
Statistics from Rubavu District Police unit indicate that from January to June smuggled good that were seized were worth Rwf43.7million. Besides the smuggled goods there has been a great deal of cooperation between the public and the police in terms of crime reporting which resulted into 780 smuggling-related cases that were filed.
At least five wanted people have been identified and arrested in Rwanda since last year and deported back to countries where the warrants of arrest were issued.
According to SSP Kalisa, cooperation between the police and residents also facilitated the arrested 101 people in connection with drug trafficking and abuse.
In narrating how some smugglers were identified, the DPC said that there are people who cross the border from Goma several times in a day.
“Among these very many people some smuggle in men suits while wearing them. Every time this person is coming in, he is putting on a different suit, he leaves it on the Rwandan side, goes back and come dressed in a different suit,” he said.
Acting on a tip off from residents, police tailed the men right from the time they entered the country to their final drop-off and apprehended them.
SSP Kalisa went on to say that there are also some women that wrap drugs around their bodies inside their clothes thinking they could beat security.
“But we know all these tricks. No one should think they can outsmart security systems…the systems we have in place and the cooperation with residents have contributed tremendously to bring to justice criminal like drug traffickers and smugglers.
With regards to narcotics, in the first six months on this year, Police in Rubavu have seized 615kilograms of cannabis most of which had been sneaked into the country through porous borders from neighboring countries, six kilograms of khat and 45 litres of Kanyanga
The rate at which trade is booming between Rubavu and Goma towns has also attracted illegal border crossing by some elements which police says that those that have attempted to cross illegally have been intercepted and majority of those are smugglers.
SSP Kalisa emphasises that much of what RNP has achieved was due to cooperation with the public and added that part of the long term plan of the District Police Unit is deepening its cooperation with residents through human security activities and awareness campaigns.