Police in Gatsibo District have intercepted a vehicle loaded with 4320 bottles of a locally made illicit brew called ‘Somawumve.’ The vehicle was intercepted at a roadblock in Nyagahanga.
“The vehicle was heading for Gatsibo, coming from Rwamagana, and it was intercepted along the way following information provided by the people. The vehicle was impounded at Gatsibo Police station while the illicit beverage was disposed of,” chief inspector of police Theobard Kanamugire, the police spokesman for the Eastern region, said.
Various entities are currently engaged in raising awareness against illicit drugs, including joint operations by the police and the Rwanda Standards Bureau (RSB) against illegal distilleries.
At least 45 illegal distilleries have been closed in the Eastern Province alone.
“Some unlicensed distilleries use harmful raw materials, operate in unhygienic places and package in dirty containers,” Kanamugire said.
According to RSB, only 20% of the 100 or so distilleries in the Eastern Province are licensed. In the whole of the country, close to 80 illegal distillers had been closed by the end of last year in the joint operations.
RSB specifies that only food-grade processing aids recognized as safe for human consumption can be used during the manufacture of beverages. Other standard requirements include labelling, which should mention the name of the products; the physical and postal address of manufacturer; net contents in millilitres or litters; ethyl alcohol content; date of manufacture and expiry date; storage instructions; statutory warnings; and a list of ingredients.
However, some distillers allegedly use mixed sugarcane residues, bricks, sugar, tea, water and other substances said to be harmful to consumers.