Three of the suspects showed to the media at the Police Metropolitan headquarters in Remera, were arrested by the Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crimes (ASOC) department in Musanze and Gasabo districts with combined 8,256 pieces of the outlawed polythene bags and 555 pieces of assorted skin bleaching products.
They are Louise Bamporineza, 29, arrested in Musanze District, Cyuve Sector in Rwebeya Cell, Marampima Village; Venuste Yamuragiye, 25, and Ephraim Nsabimana, 33, arrested in Kinyinya and Nduba sectors, respectively, both in Gasabo District.
Bamporineza one of the suspects, told the media that it never crossed her mind that she could be arrested.
"I have never thought before that this... being in handcuffs would happen to me. I was getting plastics bags and lotions [skin bleaching agents] from Uganda through DRC, Rubavu to Musanze where I live before transporting them to Kigali to supplier retailers, who pressed orders," Bamporineza explained.
Yamuragire is a taxi-moto operator, who was transporting the goods. He was the first to be arrested and named Bamporineza as his boss.
According to Bamporineza, she was using public means to smuggler the products from Musanze to clients in Kigali.
Meanwhile, seven other suspects were arrested in Kigali for allegedly conniving to steal pharmaceutical products from Gasabo District pharmacy.
They include one Xavier Hakizimana Xavier, an employee at Gasabo District Pharmacy, who was allegedly embezzling assorted pharmaceutical products from the pharmacy and selling them to other pharmacies, clinics and dispensaries.
Hakizimana told the media that he has been taking drugs and lab testing kits from the store and selling them to other health facilities in Kigali.
He added that he started stealing the medical products in 2017. At the time of his arrest, Hakizimana was found in possession of 15 COVID-19 testing kits.
Deputy RNP spokesperson, CSP Africa Sendahangarwa Apollo said the suspects were arrested as a result of strong partnership between the Police and the general public through information sharing.
CSP Africa urged those in the health sector to abide by the law, guidelines and strengthen the vigilance to fight such fraud.
"Health is a delicate sector that requires maximum professionalism, high standards of ethics, loyalty and discipline to give the best medical services to patients.
Behaving contrary may highly affect lives of the people," CSP Africa said.
On the non-biodegradable plastic bags and banned skin bleaching creams and oils, CSP Africa warned against dealing in such outlawed products.
Article 266 of the law relating to offences and penalties in general, states that "any person, who produces, sells or prescribes the following prohibited substances: a drug; harmful products; cosmetics or body hygiene substances 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 to Rwf5 million or only one of these penalties."
Under article 10 of law N° 17/2019 of 10/08/2019 states that any person, who imports plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items, is liable to the dispossession of those plastic carry bags and such items, and to an administrative fine equivalent to ten times of the value of those plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items.
In article 12, a retailer of plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items is liable to an administrative fine of Frw300, 000 and dispossession of those plastic carry bags and such items.