The arrest of popular local music spinner DJ Marnaud, real name Arnaud Mugisha Gatera, over noise pollution allegations has caused uproar within the showbiz industry, with stakeholders saying that Rwanda National Police should not be arresting DJs but rather the owners of the joints.
DJ Marnaud was arrested on Wednesday night at the Kibagabaga based hangout Pili Pili on allegations of causing noise pollution. Eye witnesses say the disco jockey was taken by police along with equipment after officers on duty stormed the popular hangout.
The ‘Ribuyu’ singer was released on Thursday morning after fellow DJs and industry players intervened and others took to Twitter to lament the treatment of DJs who are often arrested in the crackdown on noise pollution, rather than owners of the businesses.
“Why would DJ Marnaud be arrested over a mistake committed by those who hired him? Why not question the owners of the business. He was only doing his job,” said Bruce Intore Twagira, a renowned showbiz promoter.
“To our beloved @Rwandapolice, a fellow DJ @dj_marnaud got locked up. He got hired to do a job, he pays tax, he contributes to country’s development; BUT he is not the bar or sound equipment owner,” tweeted renowned music promoter and disc jockey DJ Africano.
In response to Africano, Police said it was looking into the matter. Moments later he was released without charges.
“Good morning @Deejay_Africano, thank you for raising this, we are going to follow it up,” Police responded.
An eye witness who spoke to KT Press said that there was a disagreement on the levels of noise, with the DJ and revellers maintaining that the sound levels were way below the standards but officers did not want to hear of it.
But the arrest of the DJ has opened up a debate on how police goes about the noise pollution crackdown, with many saying that DJs should not be the ones to be held responsible but rather the owners of hangouts and joints where they play.
“They did not measure. The Police officer just said there was too much noise caused by the music,” the eye witness said, adding that attempts to engage with the police officers on patrol yielded to nothing.
Another bar owner, who spoke to KT Press said that Police officers act on their own discretion, any attempts to engage leads to further sanctions.
“We have our own sound level meter and we always measure. The sound outside is always below the 80 decibels set out in the law. Besides we don’t have homes nearby,” the bar owners said, adding that they are always careful but Police often shuts down music.
Renowned MC and showbiz personality Lion Imanzi also faulted Police for the manner in which they handle the noise pollution issue.
“For all the professionalism displayed by @Rwandapolice in other areas, this is one they totally mishandle! There are noise pollution regulations for a reason. They should provide proof that you exceeded the limit and fine the establishment,” he said, reiterating claims by bar owners that RNP does not measure before taking action.
According to Twagira, the way Police handles the noise pollution leaves a lot to be desired and could hurt the entertainment industry, which contributes towards making Kigali a city to visit.
“This issue does not affect the showbiz industry only. It affect the country’s economy and image. If we want a vibrant city, we need to have clear guidance and regulations on how to go about this noise pollution issue,”
“If clubs and bars needs to be relocated or something, we can do that but jailing key players in the industry is very discouraging,” Twagira says.
Pius Rukabuza, also known as Deejay Pius also says the act of arresting DJs or artistes harms the entertainment and goes to show how it is disregarded.
“Entertainment in general is a domain which is so disregarded in all aspects in Rwanda. So sad. Sometimes you just fail to understand the logic behind these actions by @Rwandapolice,” says the ‘Homba Homboka’ singer.
“Why jail a DJ when you can confiscate sound equipment or even fine the bar?” wonders the singer and DJ.
Singer Uncle Austin Luwano also says the issue has been going on for a while and Police can’t explain why it has to jail the DJ instead of those who hired his or her services.
Efforts to get a comment from the RNP Spokesperson CP John Bosco Kabera were futile by press time as he was in a meeting.
Since 2014, City of Kigali and Police tightened noise pollution levels, with city authorities emphasising that nightlife should not interfere with the peace of others who want to sleep. The regulations mainly hit bars and hangouts in popular neighbourhoods such as Kibagabaga, Nyarutarama, Remera and Kimironko among others.
Rwanda Environment Management Authority (Rema) guidelines consider any sound as noise pollution when it exceeds 80 decibels. A 2014 Ministerial order reinforced noise pollution regulations.
Article 267 of the 2018 law determining penalties and fines says that “any person who, unjustly or without an authorization, makes noise likely to disturb public, commits an offence. Upon conviction, he/she is liable to a fine of not less than five hundred thousand (FRW 500,000) Rwandan francs and not more than one million Rwandan francs (FRW 1,000,000)”.
In case of recidivism, the penalties is imprisonment for a term of not less than eight (8) days and not more than one (1) month and a fine of more than one million Rwandan francs (FRW 1,000,000) and not more than two million Rwandan franc (FRW 2,000,000) or only one of the penalties.