The story of a bleeding City – Juba and not Mogadishu!

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

August 24, 2013 (SSNA) — While South Sudan is generally referred to as a post conflict country, maybe it’s time this description be taken with a pinch of salt, as killings of innocent lives remain rampant all across the country. We are for all sincerity purposes, a ‘truly conflict ridden’ country, and not a post conflict as others want us to believe!

It would reflect better if we openly accept that our country is in fact stuck in an insolvable lawlessness, instead of this euphemism of post conflict.  Innocent citizens continue to be subjects of daily tragic and heinous killings by bandits of government security and law enforcement agents turn thugs.

This is not only in the ungovernable Jonglei State – which the US administration and the UN officials have singled out, but it is even rife in Juba, the capital and the seat of government!    

On Monday August 19, 2013, Juba City woke up to the tragic murder of two people in a neighborhood right in the centre of the city. The deceased were killed within the compound of their house by unknown gunmen at around midnight East African time.

One feels sad when our people have to die this way, but what breaks my heart the most is the submissiveness with which all these tragedies are being received by those in the receiving end. Even the frugal information that has reached us here in the Diaspora through the social media, community forum and the other media outlets, all suffer self-censorships. People have been taken over by fear as the country descends deep into a police state.

One source probably a relative of the deceased brothers wrote on Monday morning and I quote:

“Unknown gunmen killed two people in the Darassalam (literally meaning home of peace) residential area around 12:00AM midnight.  An eyewitness said that unidentified men came in police uniforms and entered the fence while everybody was inside the house.

They knocked at the door but nobody responded to them. Then they started shooting the door till they broke it and entered the house and took the two brothers out and shot them to death. The two dead bodies have been carried to the South Sudan National Assembly and are lying at the gate of assembly right now”. He said.

Another witness statement said and I quote:

“ ……….on hearing the gun shot, I immediately called the police patrol number for Munuki Zone (3) which is 0954000300, but what they told me is that they don’t have a vehicle”. He said.

“I was shocked to hear that. But I insisted to them to trace any other patrol that can rescue the situation. Then after 1-2 hours, I heard a vehicle moving towards the incident’s side, but I was not happy because it was too late and none of them were found. Let’s continue to pray for God’s deliverance and protection in Jesus name AMEN”. He concluded.

These two witness statements have undoubtedly convey to all of us how dreadful the incident was. It clearly reflects furthermore how the security and security services have degenerated to the most rudimentary levels.

Human life has become a valueless commodity in this part of the world – making nonsense of the acclaimed sovereignty.

It had been all over the media that the new Vice President, who on the day of the unfortunate incident was still the Speaker of the National Parliament, did summon the some ministers to appear before the Assembly as reported on Sudan Tribune August 20, 2013-Juba:

“The speaker of the South Sudan’s national parliament, James Wani Igga, has lashed out to the security ministers, demanding that they appear before the national legislative assembly over the renewed night robberies and murders in the capital in the last few days”. It reads.

On top of that an eyewitness had also confirmed to the Sudan Tribune that the two men were shot dead when about nine armed men in police uniform stormed their house on Sunday night, demanding money from them.

As all these stories unfold, one begins to wonder for how long will this ‘typical’ scenario keep repeating itself before the authorities finally take it upon themselves to confront it head long?.

At this juncture, the protestors did well to shout insults at the police and call them all kinds of names, for there is every reason for that. Is it indeed not terribly shameful to learn that of all people it is the police who are now the culprits? 

Again there is no way that they (police) can distance themselves from any of these heinous crimes. Why on earth should a country’s criminals always be in police uniforms? Somebody in Juba has to answer that!

Of course the former Speaker Hon. James Wani Igga was forced by necessity to address the protesters at the parliament gate-door on that sad Monday.

His expressed sorrow over the incident and the consolation statement that one of the suspects was already arrested and is under investigation as the rest are being looked for, is typical of Hon. Wani Igga and his twin brother Hon. Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin.

“One of the suspects was arrested. He is in police custody and the rest will be brought to justice whether they are from the army, police, National Security or elsewhere,” Igga said.

The problem with Hon. Wani Igga’s message of empathy to the deceased’s family, relatives, friends, colleagues and those who turned up in the demonstration squarely lies in the fact that several similar incidents had happened before.

And as in a déjà vu, people in authority had come out and told the public the same story of ……..‘Some suspects been arrested’ bla bla bla, and in the end everything else just died out and that was the end of the story.  

Is it not the same statement made following late Isaiah Abraham’s brutal assassination in December 2012? Is Hon. Wani Igga not repeating what you said, Hon. Dr. Barnaba?

Talking about undisciplined members of the army, police and national security being key players in crimes in this nascent country is something internationally renowned.

In a recent interview with Hon. Kuol Manyang Juuk, the new Minister of Defence talked about arresting some senior SPLA wrong doers.

What this tells you is that the wrong guys are there – and almost everywhere. What is lacking is the political will to take actions against them.

The truth is, government agents in form of ‘Khaki boys’ and some plain dress ‘Gustavo’ had since been  suspected of either doing it themselves or conniving with criminals or lending them their guns and ammunitions for such criminal operations in return for shares in looted money, cattle, abducted women and children,  valuables………name it.

This too was voiced also in Sudan Tribune, but of course it is an open secret not only in Juba, but all across the country that what is often being referred to as a few rotten elements in the security and law enforcement elements are in fact not few. There’s a mafia empire somewhere, we just don’t know yet.

Furthermore the timing of this brutal incident remains puzzling.  Whether the police thugs were out to show their newly appointed Minister of Interior that his big talks won’t really scare them, we don’t know.

Nonetheless those who recently watched the new Minister of Interior Aleu Ayieny Aleu all dressed up in red and bragging over the SSTV about how he intends to reduce gun crimes in the city will find it extremely unbelievable that the barbaric killings of our  two  brothers came just a couple of days following the minister’s political bravado.

For the record below is what Hon. Aleu Ayieny Aleu said:

“From now onward, guns and all other types of weapons owned by police personnel and other organized forces will have to be kept in stores. All the police personnel on duty will no longer be able to carry their personal weapons in the public”, Aleu Ayieny Aleu, the new interior minister said in a statement broadcasted on state-owned South Sudan Television (SSTV) on Saturday. [Sudan Tribune August 17, 2013].

I feel obliged to include here a statement from a strong hearted relative of the deceased compatriots. I hold him at a high esteem for holding his composure while he communicated tirelessly with friends relatives on the social media:

“Brothers and sisters, I kindly I accepted your condolences and I will deliver them to the family of the deceased.  Their tragic death is indeed a great loss to us as Community of Greater Mundri in particular and South Sudan at large. I would like to ask your prayer for the family and the whole arrangement on the way for the burial of our beloved brothers”. He reached out. 

As I find myself overwhelmed by grief while navigating my way through this extremely sad and a sickening incidence, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased, and may Almighty God rest their souls in Eternal Peace. Amen.

I also call upon all the citizens in the suburbs of Juba to become more vigilant to defend their lives, properties and loved ones. After all it is the same story of men in police uniforms breaking into people’s houses at night, maim them and take away their valuables.

It is no secret that the culture of impunity pervades all levels of society in South Sudan which only increases human rights abuses because perpetrators do not fear being prosecuted.

Yesterday it was someone you don’t know – a total stranger and you did nothing about it. Today it is a colleague, a neighbor, or a relative and if you also do nothing about it, then tomorrow it will be you and nobody will do anything about it.

Establishing groups like Neighborhood Watch Schemes endorsed by the local authority to keep a watchful eye on the neighborhoods is strongly recommend my people. But of course it needs people with guts, and real guts to say enough is enough!

Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba can be reached at: [email protected]

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