Outlawed skin bleaching cosmetics seized from dealers

On 15 August 2021 at 07:46

On Friday, August 13, Rwanda National Police (RNP) arrested two people in Gisozi Sector, Gasabo District identified as Augustin Sinayobye, 43, and Laurent Nzamurambaho, 33, after they were found selling outlawed skin bleaching creams and oils commonly known as Mukologo, in their shops.

The suspects were arrested red-handed with 102 pieces of assorted skin whitening products worth Rwf238, 900.

At least 47 pieces of skin whitening cosmetics were seized from the shop owned by Sinayobye located in Rukeri village, Ruhango cell while 55 others were found in Nzamurambaho’s shop in Agasharu Village, Musezero Cell.

The duo admitted that they were buying the outlawed harmful lotions from other dealers in Kigali

Nzamurambaho said that he was being supplied by a major dealer living in Nyamirambo, whom he only identified as Ndayambaje.

"Ndayambaje is the one who hires cyclists to deliver the cosmetics to me," Nzamurambaho told the Police.

To Sinayobye, he said that he was being supplied by one Juvenal Nkurikiyimana alias Gatoya, who operates in Nyabugogo.

RNP spokesperson, Commissioner of Police(CP) John Bosco Kabera said that this is part of the ongoing operations to fight the sell and use of the skin bleaching cosmetics, which were banned in Rwanda due to their adverse health effects to users.

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

“These suspects are not the first to be arrested; many more have been caught and showed to the media before, and this should sound as a warning that even others that are still involved in this unlawful business and trying to thrive at the cost of other people’s health, will be arrested," CP Kabera said.

He commended the public for the community policing spirit through reporting people dealing in skin bleaching products.

The suspects were handed over to RIB at Kacyiru Police station for further legal process as the search for their two alleged supplier is still underway.

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 Rwf5 million or one of these penalties.