700 litres of illicit brew seized in Southern Province

On 28 December 2020 at 08:13

Police have seized 700 litres of illicit brew in separate operations conducted on Saturday, December 26. The psychotropic substances called ’Muriture’ and ’Nyirantare’ were seized from distillers and sellers in Muhanga, Nyanza and Gisagara districts of Southern Province.

Superitendent of Police (SP) Theobald Kanamugire, the Police spokesperson for the Southern region, said that residents provided information about people, who sell illicit drinks and operate bars, which are also supposed to be closed in this period of COVID-19 pandemic.

"In response to this credible information, Police worked with grassroots leaders and local security personnel in concurrent operations that targeted specific bars where illicit drinks are sold. 690 litres of illicit brew were seized and some of the dealers arrested in the process, although there are other suspects who managed to run away," SP Kanamugire said.

At least four suspected dealers were arrested in Gisagara with combined 300 litres; 40 litres of Muriture and 260 litres of Nyirantare. Distilling, selling and consumption of these substances in Gisagara is common in the sectors of Nyanza and Muganza.

Meanwhile, in Nyanza District, one of the arrested distillers identified as Claude Ntibizigirwa, 39, was found in possession of 280 litres of Muriture.

SP Kanamugire said that Ntibizigirwa was at the time processing the substances to produce another illicit crude gin locally known as Kanyanga.

The seized psychotropic substances were disposed of.

"Distilling and selling these substances could also be the source of COVID-19 spread, especially when people meet in one place, no social distancing and share containers. Bars are closed in this period but also selling illicit brew is criminal and punishable by law."

Illicit drinks are classified as simple drugs, under the Ministerial Order No.001/MoH/2019 of 04/03/2019 establishing the list of narcotic drugs and their categorisation.

In article 263 of the law determining offences and penalties in general, anyone convicted for simple drugs faces between seven and ten years in prison, upon conviction, and a fine of between Rwf5 million and Frw10 million.