A funeral service vehicle was impounded on Thursday in Ruharambuga Sector of Nyamasheke District after it was found transporting 14 bales of smuggled secondhand clothes and shoes, commonly known as Caguwa.
At least eight bales contained used shoes and six others of clothes.
The Rwanda National Police (RNP) spokesperson, Commissioner of Police (CP) John Bosco Kabera said that earlier that evening, the District Police Unit of Nyamasheke received a phone call from an informer in Kamembe about two people, who had smuggled quantities of secondhand clothes and shoes into the country from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The caller was specific on the particulars of the suspected smugglers and the funeral vehicle which they had hired in an attempt to beat security,” CP Kabera said.
“We mounted a snap-check along Ntendezi- Gashyirabwoba road where a Mercedes Benz RAD 819J driven by Afrika Placide, 57, was stopped at about 10pm, recovered eight bales of shoes and six bales of clothes. The vehicle was impounded to Ruharambuga Police station while goods were handed over to the Revenue Protection Unit,” he added.
He said three suspects identified as Daniel Ntigurirwa, 29, the owner of shoes; Simon Kagesera, 41, owner of bales of clothes and their driver, Afrika Placide are also detained at Ruharambuga Police station.
How caguwa is smuggled
Ntigurirwa, one of the suspects, admitted that this was his third time he has smuggled secondhand clothes into the country. His was successful in his first two attempts.
“Normally, there are Congolese, who have ventured in this business of smuggling through Lake Kivu to an agreed destination in Rwanda,” Ntigurirwa narrated.
He added: “When you cross to DR Congo and buy your secondhand shoes and clothes, or even other goods, you reach out to them and you agreed on how much you will pay them after delivering the goods to a specific destination on the Rwandan side. The agreed destination has to be somewhere near the border or the lake. In my case, I paid them Rwf20000 to deliver them to my home in Kamembe.”
Ntigurirwa explained that earlier the day of their arrest, together with Kagesera, they met Africa (driver) at a bar in Kamembe town, Rusizi District.
“We told him the whole plan, he agreed. Since this was a funeral service vehicle we thought it would be a successful deal to smuggle the goods to Kigali without being stopped,” Ntigurirwa explained.
Ntigurirwa alone was to pay the driver Rwf30, 000 on arrival in Kigali.
CP Kabera thanked the role of the public in information sharing, which he said plays the central role in identifying and arresting especially smugglers and drug traffickers, adding that “operations against such unlawful activities are continuous.”
By law, a vehicle used in smuggling as well as the smuggled goods are auctioned, while the driver is handed a penalty of US$5000.