Outlawed skin bleaching cosmetics seized from dealer in Rubavu

On 4 August 2021 at 06:19

Rwanda National Police (RNP), on Monday, August 2, arrested a woman in Gisenyi Sector, Rubavu District, who was selling outlawed skin whitening creams and oils commonly known as Mukologo.

Elizabeth Mukanyangezi, 50, was found in possession of 105 pieces of assorted lotions worth over Rwf315,000.

Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Bonaventure Twizere Karekezi, the Police spokesperson for the Western region, said that the suspect was arrested following to a tip-off from local residents.

“Police had information that dealers in illegal cosmetics, after sneaking them into Rwanda from the Democratic Republic of Congo, sell them in the markets in small quantities," CIP Karekezi said.

"On Monday, at about 3pm, Police officers conducted a target operation following information from residents that Mukanyangezi was headed to Gisenyi market to sell the banned cosmetics. She was arrested red-handed as she attempted to enter the market with the cosmetics concealed in a sack," he added.

After her arrest, Mukanyangezi revealed that she gets the cosmetics from DRC and sneaks them into Rwanda through porous borders.

She further said that in order to avoid being detected or to beat security after sneaking them into Rwanda, she would transport them in small quantities to supply her retailing customers in shops and Gisenyi markets.

The outlawed creams and oil brands 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 (WHO).

Medics suggest that the two toxic chemicals; hydroquinone and mercury react with ultraviolet rays and lead to more pigmentation and premature aging.

The more these products are used the less melanin the body produces, and this leads to an increased risk for skin cancer.

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 Frw5 million or one of these penalties.