The suspects; Elias Shumbusho, 28, and Jean Damascene Sebahire, 23, were arrested as they crossed into Rwanda from Burundi through a porous border in Nyabikenke cell, Nyanza Sector.
The Police spokesperson for the Southern region, Superintendent of Police (SP) Theobald Kanamugire said that the duo was arrested by the Revenue Protection Unit (RPU).
RPU is a Rwanda National Police (RNP) branch attached to Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) to fight smuggling and fraud.
“Revenue Protection Unit had prior information that Sebahire and Shumbusho are notorious smugglers in Gisagara and would on that very day smuggle other goods into Rwanda from Burundi.
During the operation, two other people that had been hired by Sebahire and Shumbusho to carry their goods managed to escape but the two prime suspects (Sebahire and Shumbusho), who are the suspected rightful owners of the smuggled goods, were arrested in the process,” SP Kanamugire said.
Sebahire and Shumbusho admitted that they work with a group of Burundians, and the latter delivers the goods at an agreed spot on the borderline, where they meet to collect.
SP Kanamugire thanked the residents, who reported the acts of smuggling and tax evasion.
“These people conduct their illegal and illicit businesses at night, which is a risk to their lives as they can be killed by evil-minded people, who also use the cover of the night to cause insecurity. But we are also in the period of COVID-19 pandemic, which is claiming lives of people, and such unnecessary movements and illegal cross-border can be the source of the virus,” SP Kanamugire said.
He warned that smuggling, evading taxes and crossing the border using ungazetted routes are all punishable by law.
According to RRA, “a taxpayer, who commits fraud, is subject to an administrative fine of one hundred percent (100%) of the evaded tax. With exception to that penalty, the Tax Administration refers the case to the Prosecution service if the taxpayer voluntarily evaded such tax, like through the use of false accounts, falsified documents or any other act punishable by law. In case of conviction, the taxpayer can be imprisoned for a period between six (6) months and two (2) years.”
Under the East African Community Management Act, which is also applicable in Rwanda, seized smuggled goods under article 199, are auctioned.
In case a vehicle was used in fraud and smuggling, it is also auctioned and the driver slapped a fine of US$5000.