Woman arrested in operations against skin bleaching cosmetics

On 31 December 2021 at 06:07

The Rwanda National Police (RNP) Anti-Smuggling and Organised Crimes unit (ASOC) on Thursday 30th December 2021, arrested a woman identified as Alice Uwurukundo, 30, in Gasabo District for allegedly dealing in the outlawed skin whitening cosmetics commonly known as Mukologo.

ASOC seized quantities of assorted skin bleaching lotions from the home of Urukundo located in Rukingu Village, Kagugu Cell, Kinyinya Sector.

Uwurukundo revealed that she started selling the banned cosmetics three months ago. She added that she was being supplied two people, whom she did not disclosed.

“I was buying quantities of skin whitening cosmetics from one dealer operating in Gicumbi District, who was trafficking them into Rwanda from Uganda and others from another dealer operating in Nyamasheke District, who was sneaking them into the country from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” said Uwurukundo.

Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Africa Sendahangarwa Appolo, the RNP Deputy spokesperson said that the suspect was arrested following information provided by the local residents in Kagugu.

“Police have works with the public to identify and crackdown people, who deal in such outlawed products. Uwurukundo was arrested in the morning of Thursday at her home where she was operating her illegal business," said CSP Africa.

CSP Sendahangarwa thanked residents who reported the suspect and called for stronger cooperation and reporting people, who sell skin bleaching products.

Side effects

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).

If it enters the bloodstream, it also results into fatal liver and kidney damage, although medics say the most immediate visible side effect is skin scarring.

Health experts confirm that prolonged use of corticosteroid creams and lotions can also decrease levels of collagen in the skin.

Collagen strengthens and supports the skin, and a reduced amount can increase the risk of striae commonly known as stretch marks.

Legal framework

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.