The suspects were arrested in an operation conducted with local leaders in Gashali Sector, Birambo Cell following a tip-off from residents.
Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Bonaventure Twizere Karekezi, the Police spokesperson for the Western region, said that the suspects were caught red-handed mining in the river.
Their illegal mining activities had affected the water body, he said.
“There was information that the river was being affected by illegal mining activities, which prompted the joint operation and the subsequent arrest of thirteen people. They selling the minerals to other illegal dealers,” CIP Karekezi said.
He warned against the illegal acts saying that “operations are continuous to enforce the law on mining against all malpractices within the mining industry.”
“We appeal to the residents to fight such crimes and report people who carry illegal mining activities in their areas.”
“We have many times appealed to the population to abstain from such acts. Some have honored the call, others not. There is a need for collective efforts to fight all acts related to the degradation of the environment.”
He reminded that for anyone to carry out mining activities, they must be licenced and work within the limits of the law in order to minimize environmental degradation and fatal risks.
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.
The court also orders confiscation of any seized minerals or quarry in storage, trading or processing without a license.