They include one Jackson Nkeshimana, 27, a conductor of the bus RAC 669T, which he had hired to transport 17 traders operating in various markets in Kigali, to Gatsibo District to buy goods in Rwagitima market.
Two others are Jean Paul Hakizimana and Alphonse Hitimana, who work in cyber cafes in Muhima Sector, Nyarugenge District.
Nkeshimana is the suspected mastermind, who allegedly brought Hakizimana and Hitimana on board to forge the movement clearance normally issued by Rwanda National Police.
RNP spokesperson, CP John Bosco Kabera said that the vehicle with 17 traders on board was intercepted on February 24, by traffic Police officers at Nyagasambu along Rwamagana-Kigali road as they returned to Kigali from Gatsibo.
"Traffic Police officers at Nyagasambu stopped the bus for checks as a normal procedure to prevent prohibited movements and other violations. When they asked the driver to produce clearance documents, he gave them a paper with names of all 17 passengers on board and another with the Rwanda National Police log resembling the movement clearance permit," CP Kabera explained.
Out of suspicion, he added, the Police officers called other officers charged with issuing the movement clearence to verify the authenticity of the papers.
"The vehicle was not in the system and neither did RNP issue any clearance for the bus and all the 17 traders on board to travel to Gatsibo District. Investigations showed that the bus conductor—Nkeshimana—hatched the whole plan and worked with Hitimana and Hakizimana to produce the forgeries," CP Kabera said.
Hitimana and Hakizimana were arrested later after Nkeshimana dislosed their role in the criminal act.
Movement between Kigali and provinces as well as between districts is prohibited.
Only those seeking essential services like medical and cargo vehicles with a maximum of two people on board, are permitted.
Meanwhile, Nkeshimana told journalists at the Police metropolitan headquarters in Remera, that before the pandemic, he used to transport this group of traders to buy goods in Rwagitima market.
"This time, I called each of them to send me their particulars and I compiled a whole list. I later went to Hakizimana and Hitimana, who helped me to forge the movement clearance," Nkeshimana said.
According to Nkeshimana, each of the passengers paid Rwf8,000; Rwf6,000 as transport fare and Rwf2,000 to process their movement clearance.
According to the driver, he was hired by Nkeshimana to transport the 17 traders to Gatsibo and made him believe that he had secured the same movement clearance documents from Rwanda National Police.
Equally, the traders accused Nkeshimana of defrauding them and intentionally leading them into violating the national directives.
CP Kabera warned against such criminal behaviours and flouting the national COVID-19 prevention directives, which derail response efforts against the pandemic.
He added that the process of acquiring a movement clearance either as an individual or a group is clear and known, which must be followed.
Clause One of article 174 of the law determining offences and penalties in general in Rwanda, defines fraud as deception, obtaining another person’s property, whole or part of his/her finance by use of false names or qualifications, or offering positive promises or threats of future misfortunes.
Clause Two of the same article provides a term of imprisonment of between two and three years, and a fine of not less than Rwf3 million but not more than Rwf5 million, upon conviction.
Under article 276, “any person who, in any manner, forges or alters documents by forged signature or fingerprint, falsifying documents or signatures or impersonation, forging agreements, its provisions, obligations, or discharged obligations commits an offence.
Upon conviction, he/she is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than five years but not more than seven years and a fine of not less than Rwf3 million and not more than Rwf5 million or only one of these penalties.”
The penalty also applies to any person, who knowingly makes use of a forged document in any way.