Residents were further called upon to strengthen the community policing partnership to fight these unlawful practices, which are still common in some parts of the district.
On Wednesday, September 7, Police and local authorities in Ngororero arrested two people after they were found conducting illegal mining in Gishwati National Park.
The suspects were caught red-handed mining coltan with traditional tools, in Mwiyanike Village, Rugeshi Cell of Kavumu Sector.
The Western Region Political and Civic Education Officer (RPCEO), Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Mucyo Rukundo identified the suspects as Jean Damascene Rwihandagaza, 45, and Jean Pierre Munyentwari, 36.
“Police had prior information that there are groups of people that conduct illegal mining in Gishwati National Park. On Wednesday at about 4pm, we received a call from a resident that two people with traditional tools were mining in the side of park located in Mwiyanike village. An operation was conducted and the suspects were apprehended red-handed," said CIP Rukundo.
He added: "Their practices were not only illegal but were also destroying the protected forest as well. They were cutting trees and digging holes inside the forest, which is also an act of environmental degradation."
The suspects were handed over to RIB at Kavumu station for further investigations.
Article 72 of the Law N° 064/2021 of 14/10/2021 governing biological diversity provides that without prejudice to provisions of other laws, a natural person who undertakes minerals exploration activities or exploits mines or quarries in a protected area, commits an offence.
Upon conviction, he or she is liable to a term of imprisonment of not less than one (1) year but not more than three (3) years and a fine of more than Rwf5 million and not more than Rwf7 million.
If the offence referred to in Paragraph One of this Article is committed in a national park or a strict nature reserve, the penalty is a term of imprisonment of not less than three (3) years but not more than five (5) years and a fine of more than Rwf7 million but not more than Rwf10 million.