The operations were conducted in Murambi and Masoro sectors in partnership with members of other security organs and local leaders.
The illegal miners belong to the same group that call itself ’Abapari.’ At the time of their arrest, they were found in possession of 8.5kgs of cassiterite minerals.
The Acting District Police Commander (Ag. DPC) for Rulindo, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Pacifique Semahame Gakwisi said that the suspects were arrested following complaints raised by the residents, whose farms the group was digging in search for minerals near Rutongo mines.
"Police has been receiving several complaints from residents about people, who extract minerals in their fields close to Rutongo mines, especially during the night, destroying their crops, and Police had been trailing those involved until 17 people belonging to the group of Abapari, were arrested red-handed on Tuesday with 8.5kgs which they had extracted, and seized assorted traditional tools which they were using," CIP Sebahame said.
The group, he added, was threatening residents, whose farms and crops were being destroyed, that they would harm them if they reported their illegal activities to the Police.
The DPC warned against illegal mining activities as well as destroying people crops and threatening them.
“To conduct mineral related business, including extraction, you must be licensed or an employee of a licensed company and operating in a specific area. Operating at night is risky to your life and threatening people will not shield you from being arrested because people understand their community policing rights," CIP Sebahame warned.
Those 17 arrested illegal miners along with the minerals were handed over to RIB at Murambi station for further investigation.
Article 54 of the law N° 58/2018 of 13/08/2018 on mining and quarry operations, states that; any person, who undertakes mineral or quarry exploration, exploitation, processing or trading without a licence, commits an offence.
Upon conviction, the offender is liable to imprisonment for a term of between two and six months and a fine of not less than Rwf1 million and not more than Rwf5 million or only one of these penalties.
The court also orders confiscation of any seized minerals or quarry in storage, trading or processing without a license.