On Monday morning, this week, Mama Kibonge (nickname) was thinking of going out of the Downtown city market where she runs a cosmetics stall, to go sunbath after a heavy breakfast.
Customers were not showing up. Business was sluggish.
Suddenly Police Officers showed up and before she made any arguments, her goods were being pulled off the shelves and thrown into a Police vehicle.
She was told, “these are illegal products.”
The talk was brief and to the point. No more business was there to talk about.
The Police had just mounted a crackdown on illegal cosmetics on the market, a day after President Kagame instructed the Ministry of Health and the National Police “to reign” on the products “very quickly.”
His instruction was induced by a conversation on social media about the demise caused skin bleaching to Rwandan women. “Quite unhealthy among other things. Includes use of prohibited chemicals,” he said on Twitter.
Apparently, there are more than 1,340 prohibited brands in Rwanda.
The Police Spokesperson, CP John Bosco Kabera, told Taarifa yesterday that, “First of all, there is a law No 47/2012 of 14/01/2013 relating to the regulation and inspection of food and pharmaceutical products and ministerial order No 20/38 of 26/02/2016 determining the list of cosmetics whose use is prohibited in Rwanda.”
The Ministry of Health, Rwanda National Police, RIB, RFDA, and RSB are now involved in operations to seize these prohibited cosmetics according to the mention mentioned list.
“It started in Kigali and will be done across the country, it is not a one day operation,” CP Kabera said.
He said there are many products that are prohibited on the market and he suspects there could be others not on the list, but are on the market.
All bleaching agents or cosmetics that are harmful are prohibited in Rwanda.
The law prohibits the manufacture, import, store, exhibit, sell or dispense of cosmetics that contain or consist of substances likely to adversely affect one’s health.
A countrywide awareness campaign is expected to follow the operation.
Mama Kibonge and many other traders whose merchandise were confiscated, can only shed tears. “The goods will be disposed of in accordance with established procedures,” CP Kabera said. “Traders have broken the law.”