Kigali: Duo arrested with skin bleaching products

On 3 June 2021 at 05:38

Rwanda National Police (RNP), on Tuesday, June 2, showed to the media two people, who were arrested for allegedly selling outlawed skin bleaching products commonly known as Mukologo.

They are Donatien Ufiteyezu, 35, and Oscar Bizimana, 30, who were paraded at Kigali Metropolitan Police Headquarters in Remera, Gasabo District.

They were arrested during the Police operation against banned skin bleaching products conducted on June 1, in Kigarama and Gikondo sectors of Kicukiro District.

Police also seized from the duo combined 1,451 pieces of assorted creams and oils worth Rwf768,100.

The seized skin whitening products include Mediven, Coco Pulp, Totem, Éclair 600, Extra Claire and Caro light.

Donatien Ufiteyezu, one of the suspects argued that he "wanted to sell the remaining stock and quite dealing in skin bleaching products."

"I was not aware before that selling the skin whitening creams and oils is an unlawful business. I acquired the creams from street vendors and retailed them in my shop in Kigarama sector," said Ufiteyezu.

"This time around, I had taken a decision to sell the creams were remaining in the shop and stop dealing in these products. Unfortunately, I was arrested at my shop when Police officers found the products in the shelves," he added.

RNP spokesperson, Commissioner of Police (CP) John Bosco Kabera said these are continuous operations against people dealing in outlawed products.

"There are residents who are aware that the business of selling skin bleaching soap, creams and oils is illegal because of their health effects on users, and we want to thank them for reporting such unlawful businesses and dealers," CP Kabera said.
Side effects

There are 1,342 listed cream and oil brands with hydroquinone and mercury, which are prohibited in Rwanda.

The products contain chemicals such as mercury and hydroquinone, which can cause liver damage, reduce resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, and increase anxiety, according to the World Health Organization.

If it enters the bloodstream it also results into fatal liver and kidney damage, although medics say the most immediate visible side effect is skin scarring.

Health experts confirm that prolonged use of corticosteroid creams and lotions can also decrease levels of collagen in the skin.

Collagen strengthens and supports the skin, and a reduced amount can increase the risk of striae commonly known as stretch marks.

According to CP Kabera, the outlawed products are mainly sneaked into the country through illegal borders in small quantities sometimes using children in transportation and selling.

He said that these tricks used in trafficking and selling from their homes and hiden shops and stores have been unearthed and that the partnership with the public through information sharing on dealers continue to pay-off.

What the law says

The skin bleaching products are labeled illegal under the ministerial order determining the list of cosmetics, whose use is prohibited in Rwanda; the law on organization, functioning, and competence of the Council of Pharmacists; and the law relating to the regulation and inspection of food and pharmaceutical products.

Article 266 of the law determining offenses and penalties in general, states that any person, who produces, sells or prescribes harmful products; cosmetics or body hygiene substance or any other products derived from plants, commits an offence.

Upon conviction, he/she is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year and not more than two years and a fine of not less than Rwf3 million and not more than Rwf5 million or one of these penalties.