The Police Revenue Protection Unit (RPU) has arrested three people in connection with smuggling into the country at least 7,228 kilogrammes of second-hand clothes from neighbouring countries.
The suspects arrested last week are identified as Conorath Nisingizwe, Eric Bimenyimana and Joseph Munyampeta. Nisingizwe, alone, was arrested in Musanze with 29 bundles of second hand clothes; they were yesterday paraded before the media at RPU premises in Gikondo.
According to the central region police spokesperson, Supt. Emmanuel Hitayezu, about 2.5 tons of the clothes were seized while in transit to Kigali from DR Congo while the other consortiums were intercepted in different operations.
One of the suspects, Nisingizwe who is suspected to have been facilitating the smuggling and deliveries, told the media that he had ordered the clothes which were delivered to him in Rubavu by sailors from Goma through Lake Kivu.
Apparently, Nisingizwe was working on behalf of Munyampeta, the owner of the 29 seized bundles. Munyampeta also admitted the ownership of the bundles and that he had actually sent Nisingizwe to follow up the successful delivery of the merchandise in Kigali only to be intercepted and arrested half-way in Musanze.
Robert Mugabe, the Deputy Commissioner for Revenue Investigation and Enforcement Department at Rwanda Revenue Authority said that approximately Rwf10 million was supposed to be paid for the 2.5 tons alone.
“Such practices harm the economy and when the economy is shaken, even the same exact person who caused it is affected; that’s why we have to keep and ensure clean businesses,” said Mugabe.
Supt. Hitayezu said: “We are aware that some people tend to involve themselves much in such illegal businesses towards the end of the year, that’s why we have intensified our operations.”
“Some business community tends to look for loopholes to do their black businesses – and that is why we conduct random operations and involve the public through awareness or whistleblowers. Through such operations, we have intercepted smugglers. In order to recover the taxes, we also seize these products and inform RRA, which imposes fines on the culprits,” added the spokesperson.
Article 369 of the Penal Code states that a taxpayer guilty of tax evasion shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of between three to six months and a fine equal to the evaded tax.