The minerals were recovered on Sunday from the house of one Johnson Muhozi, the suspected illegal dealer, who is still at large. Six of his accomplices were however arrested.
According to the Police spokesperson for Eastern region, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Hamdun Twizeyimana, the minerals were unlawfully collected from different mining concessions in Nyagatare District.
The minerals were to be sold to other illegal mineral traders, according to Police informers.
"Information about a group headed by Muhozi, engaged in illegal mining and trade was provided by local residents. Although the owner of the collection centre (Muhozi) managed to escape, Police managed to arrest six of his alleged partners in crime, who were working with him on a daily basis," CIP Twizeyimana said.
"They were caught red-handed loading the minerals in the truck."
He identified those taken into custody as Jean de Dieu Muhozi, the driver; Emmanuel Kwizera, Innocent Nteziryayo, Elisa Ndayisaba, Jean Claude Munyabugingo and Jeanne Dusengimana, the manager of the store.
CIP Twizeyimana noted that the illegal selling and buying of minerals is connected with illegal mining, which is a risky and dangerous to people’s lives.
“All these seized minerals are from illegal miners, who mine or steal them during the night. There is a need to adhere to mining rules and regulations and ensure that minerals are from legal mining cooperatives or licensed people. This will minimize irregularities that expose illegal miners to hazards and cause environmental degradation as well as fraud,” CIP Twizeyimana emphasized.
He added: “Most cases of death in mining concessions that are recorded are linked to illegal mining especially at night and under other risky circumstances. We urge people to engage in mining activities only when they are legally authorized, have operational license, using the right protective tools in the right time and place.”
CIP Twizeyimana commended residents, who provided information on the illegal acts and further called for strengthened partnership and information sharing on any suspected unlawful acts.
“We urge people go through right channels to conduct legal mineral trade and mining, contrary to that they will be wasting their money especially in such cases when minerals are impounded, and crimes for which they will answer before courts of law."
The Article 54 of the law on mining and quarry operations, states that “any person, who undertakes mineral or quarry exploration, exploitation, processing or trading without a license 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."