Kamonyi: Six held over illegal tree harvesting

On 16 March 2021 at 08:19

Six people were arrested by the Police on Sunday, March 14, in Nyamiyaga Sector of Kamonyi District over felling protected trees planted along the road.

The group was cutting the trees planted under the government environmental protection programme, to make timber, according to Superintendent of Police (SP) Theobald Kanamugire, the Police spokesperson for the Southern region.

The spokesperson identified the suspects as Eric Mbabarenkoriki, 32, Frederick Hategekimana, 30, Cyliaque Bizimana, 31, and Mathieu Sebahire, 34.

Others are Emmanuel Mbonabucya, 24, and one only identified as Jean Claude.

At the time of their arrest, SP Kanamugire said, they were found with 279 timbers.

"Residents of Ngoma Cell reported a group of six men, who were cutting trees planted along the road in the villages of Cyivugiza, Sebununga and Kabahazi, for timber, which they were selling. Police immediately intervened and arrested them with 279 timbers which they made out of the protected trees they were cutting on roadsides," SP Kanamugire said.

On Sunday alone, the group cut 20 trees, he added.

Following their arrest, the group disclosed that they were contracted by two people whom they identified as Jean Pierre Niyonzima and Jean Eric Muyango, to cut the trees and make timber.

The such for Niyonzima and Muyango is still underway.

Southern region spokesperson strongly warned against such environmental crimes adding that such practices contribute to environmental degradation including soil erosion.

The six people were handed over to Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) at Mugina Police station.

Article 44 of the law on environment, prohibits cutting trees in forests or protected areas like national parks or burning them.

Article 59 of the same legal instrument stipulates that any person, who causes death, destroys protected plants, harvests or damages them, commits an offence.

Upon conviction, the offender is liable to an imprisonment term of not less than three years and not more than five years and a fine of between Rwf1 million and Rwf3 million

279 timbers which they made out of the protected trees.