By Jacob K. Lupai
August 12, 2012 (SSNA) — Criminal investigation departments in the world have a major task of apprehending criminals or pre-empting a crime being committed. In Juba metropolis criminals seem to have found a safe heaven where they operate with impunity. This is more worrying when men in uniform who are supposed to apprehend and prosecute criminals are themselves suspected of being the very criminals. This has even alarmed the Government of the Republic of South Sudan that the President, during the commemoration of the Martyrs Day on 30 July 2012, went public urging the police to protect civilians instead of robbing them of money and mobile phones. The Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Government of South Sudan seems to have responded accordingly.
Crime wave in Juba metropolis
It is difficult to conclude with certainty whether crime is up or down in Juba metropolis. Statistics on crime are hard to come by. However, people may deduce the wave of crime from what is reported by the media and also from complaints of neighborhoods. According to the Citizen newspaper of Wednesday 8 August 2012, Vol 7, Issue No. 208, the Police CID caught criminals who were involved in different types of crimes especially robbery, killings, theft of money and vehicles in Juba metropolis. The criminals seen as dangerous to the society were paraded for the press. According to the Police CID one thief was assisted by a soldier to escape but fortunately both the thief and the soldier were caught and arrested.
The implication of the arrest of the thief and the soldier in one crime scene seems to suggest that we have organized crime on our hands. What the Police CID has done is something highly commendable. People are sick and tired of crimes that are being committed with impunity when criminals are seen to escape justice. Criminals wouldn’t have escaped justice if there were no semblance of organized crime. This could be one line of enquiry for the Police CID to take in addressing crime wave in Juba metropolis and indeed in South Sudan.
Response to criminal activity
A response to criminal activity should be swift as a way of deterrent. However, sometimes this is not the case. Partly as a result crime is on the rise. When criminals go unpunished it gives encouragement to those who would have otherwise desisted from committing a crime to have a try. The failure to bring to justice suspected criminals or to contain criminal activities may be due to incompetence or negligence of the authorities concerned. Either way the result may be a disciplinary action or sacking of those responsible. The new President of Egypt did just that by sacking his chief of intelligence, a governor and another intelligence official when they couldn’t pre-empt a crime by a gang of marauding nomadic criminals from slaying 15 Egyptian border guards in Sinai. In Juba metropolis there has been a number of killings of innocent civilians some of which were attributed to men in uniform but so far there seems to be no clue as to whether the suspected criminals have faced justice.
According to the USA Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 for South Sudan, in August, in Juba, men wearing police and military uniforms reportedly killed and robbed civilians. The Reports highlight that some members of these groups were reportedly arrested but no investigations were conducted. The same Department of State’s Country Reports for South Sudan also highlight that the government seldom took steps to punish officials who committed abuses and impunity was a major problem.
Fear of the unknown
The fear of the unknown is something that may paralyze somebody into inaction. Above all the fear of the unknown that peace and unity may be at risk is of concern to all. For example, South Sudan has rebel militia groups that are seen as threatening the peace and unity of the country. It is a sound strategy for somebody to conceive that to contain any rebel militia group is to deny them the opportunity for recruiting. Arguably disgruntled individuals may become potential militia recruits. Punishing men in uniform for their crimes may therefore be feared and considered a step too far in maintaining the peace and unity of the country because the punished men in uniform may simply plot to join any rebel militia group to cause the imagined havoc. It is this fear that may be one reason why criminals in uniform and in higher positions in the establishment escape justice.
One other combined reason why the men in uniform are not punished is incompetence, negligence and fear of the rank of the men in uniform. People may be incompetent in how to investigate crimes. They may also be negligent in their professional duties either through bribery or tribalism. The fear of the rank of men in uniform is somewhat interesting. If we all accept that no one is above the law then the fear of the rank of the men in uniform is misplaced. It is a cover up to do nothing hence the men in uniform may escape justice.
Another very crucial reason why men in uniform go unpunished may be because people who were yesterday guerillas in a war situation and without proper training may not be good administrators, applying sound administrative procedures in peace times to achieve some balance. Low literacy rate and lack of application of revolutionary principles may also be to blame. Revolutionary principles seem to have been thrown out of the window. Instead greed and tribalism appear to have superseded revolutionary principles of nation building and development. People have become either too ethno-centric or too materialistic, that is too greedy, to bother about poverty eradication in serving humanity. However, for the fear of the unknown it can be addressed through objectivity which is a critical and in-depth analysis of pre and post independence conditions for a solution in achieving justice, peace and prosperity for all in South Sudan.
The Police CID effort in apprehending criminals including those in uniform is one giant step forward in transforming South Sudan into a viable and vibrant country of peace and justice for all. The old guards of the pre-independence era should have been made to see a different world. South Sudan needs the effective, competent and the committed individuals but not the ineffective, incompetent and the negligent vagabond like parasitic individuals who should have been relieved of duties on day one of independence as the start of the transformation of South Sudan into a vibrant new nation. New blood in all aspects of nation building and development is needed to bring in new concepts of constructing an inclusive society that is reflective of our diversities in promoting peace, stability and unity of our country.
In conclusion, the Police CID, the Minister and the Deputy Minister of Interior of the Republic of South Sudan deserve the loudest of applauses and the highest commendation for their vigorous efforts in attempting to make Juba metropolis a real place of peace and security for all. Truly we should all be proud of the Police CID and the national security for apprehending criminals without fear and favour. This is a marvelous achievement and an encouragement to weed out criminals in our midst whether they are members of one’s tribe or not and whether they are in plain clothes or in uniform. To make South Sudan one tribe is to fight vigorously against tribalism and nepotism for cracks will soon appear if we are only people of lip service. Let’s all hope that we are not just people of lip service in building our infant nation but should be seen as patriotic and revolutionary, and above all as people of action.
The author can be reached at [email protected]