The irrationality of the South African detainment of Dr. Riek Machar

South Sudanese rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar. Photo: AP

By Duop Chak Wuol

July 28, 2017 (SSNA) — The unlawful detention of South Sudanese rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar by South Africa is beyond the common sense of rationality. The South African government’s decision to accept an outside influence to keep Dr. Machar under house arrest is no different from the apartheid policy of 1948 when the “all-white government” rewarded people who committed atrocities on its behalf and punished those who spoke out against its vicious tyranny. For most South Sudanese, the decision is a clear endorsement of a Gestapo-like campaign against the people of South Sudan.

The South African government should know that world rebellions are not created in South Sudan. Rather, they have been part of human existence, their origin began before civilization, and the idea that the South Sudanese rebellion is an exception is merely a modern-day political conspiracy in sheep’s clothing. The ongoing civil war is a result of a well-planned coup orchestrated by Salva Kiir Mayardit and Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The South African government has nothing to do with the war and should allow Dr. Machar to leave its land; preventing him from leaving amounts to complicity in Kiir’s atrocities.

I agree with the fact that South Africa, like any other country, has the right to help in finding a peaceful solution to the ongoing armed conflict in South Sudan. But the South African government’s detainment of Dr. Machar seems to be indirect support for Kiir’s atrocious regime and is suspicious enough for any reasonable person to question its plausibility.

Did Dr. Machar commit any crime under South African laws?

The answer is a resounding no. Dr. Machar did nothing wrong against the South African government or its citizens, and South Africa should not allow itself to be part of Kiir’s atrocious club by proxy.

The South African government has clearly violated Dr. Machar’s rights by illegally detaining him without any charges. Detaining someone who committed no crimes is in itself a violation of human rights. I believe that even The Constitutional Court of South Africa would find that the South African government has violated Dr. Machar’s rights. A government cannot put a foreigner under house arrest and claim that nothing is wrong. The people of South Africa should file a petition demanding the immediate release of Dr. Machar.

The people of South Sudan know very well that the plan to isolate Dr. Machar from East Africa was not engineered by South Africa. It was instead orchestrated by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni when the then-former SPLM/A-IO chief negotiator and now illegitimate First Vice President conspired with tyrant Kiir to kill Dr. Machar in a bid to take over the leadership of the armed opposition. Museveni later used his friendship with Western leaders to win the backing of the former United States administration under Barack Obama. The U.S. then waged a secret diplomatic campaign in favor of isolating Dr. Machar.

I believe that Dr. Machar has unknowingly contributed to his own isolation. Common sense and historical evidence tell us that nearly all world rebellions were and are waged in the bushes. Logic also tells us that a rebel leader does not need to live in a foreign city to wage an armed rebellion. So, the idea that one needs to live in a modern capital to successfully run a rebellion is pure nonsense. Common sense would also tell us that a rebel leader can only live in a foreign land if the host country agrees to it.

Dr. Machar must not rely on questionable friends who secretly accept bribes from Juba’s bloody regime in exchange for his exclusion from South Sudanese politics.

The South African government has no reason whatsoever to keep Dr. Machar under house arrest. The sensible thing for South Africa to do is immediately allow the South Sudanese rebel leader to leave its soil because there is no reason under South African laws to keep him under house arrest. Not unless the South African government wants to be a part of known greedy foreign governments that are committed investors in Kiir’s atrocities.

One cannot force a goat to live at the mercy of a ruthless hyena.

Imagine a vicious teeth-wielding hyena with a reputation of killing a goat every day demand that it be made the leader of all goats. Assume the hyena, for some mysterious reason, becomes the leader of goats and then summons all goats to its headquarters, orders them to build their houses, tells them that its words are final, and warns that any goat that violates its order will be sent to its grave by the force of its gigantic teeth. Now take a deep breath and reflect on the lives those goats would be subjected to under the rule of such a hyena.

The question then arises: what kind of a goat would want to live under the control of such a brutal hyena? The answer is none unless one had a supernatural power that would magically prevent the hyena from slaughtering the goats.

Kiir is no different from a vicious hyena that kills goats with impunity. His mighty teeth are his ethnic militias he empowers to kill people, rape innocent women and girls, abduct young men, and burn down homes of civilians who have nothing to do with the ongoing armed conflict. Other political figures in Juba live like stranded goats at the mercy of Kiir.

There are those who claim that other countries should not be blamed for South Sudan’s armed conflict. What is ironic about this misleading notion is that other nations are in fact part of the problem. Some of these countries are actively fighting alongside South Sudan against the armed opposition. For instance, Uganda is assisting Kiir’s regime militarily against the rebels, Egypt is supplying South Sudan with lethal weapons and ammunition, and the international community simply buries its head in the sand.

There are currently many armed conflicts around the world that the international community seems not to be interested in ending; South Sudan’s civil war appears to be one of the conflicts the community of nations shamelessly ignores. What I find ironic about this is that every time Syrians are killed by their government, the international community makes an uproar against the Syrian President. But whenever the same act is committed in South Sudan, the world displays a high level of hypocrisy.

Are South Sudanese lives different from those of Syrians? I strongly believe the answer to this question is no because a South Sudanese child has the same rights as a Syrian child. There is no doubt in my mind that the South Sudanese civil war has exposed global hypocrisy in a stunning way — and I am not quite sure if this level of hypocrisy is a Western, African, or Eastern one.

Kiir’s merciless regime rationalizes its existence through killing, and I don’t think the South African government wants to be part of it. The decision by South Africa to keep Dr. Machar under house arrest is undoubtedly a complicit one. If Pretoria believes that it is not colluding with Juba in its campaign to prevent Dr. Machar from participating in South Sudan’s politics, then it must allow Dr. Machar to leave its land. Failing to do so will only cement the already alleged accusations that South Sudan has successfully bribed some South African officials to help keep Dr. Machar under house arrest. The South African government has a choice to make: it must come clean by releasing Dr. Machar or else be seen as complicit in Kiir’s atrocious regime. The people of South Sudan have heard enough about the viciousness of the apartheid’s one-sided policy of 1948 and are certainly not interested in seeing a similar policy in their own country. If South Africa wants to be part of Kiir’s Gestapo-like campaign against the South Sudanese, it should simply come out and not hide behind Kiir’s bloody fedora.

Duop Chak Wuol is an Analyst and Editor-in-Chief of the South Sudan News Agency. He can be reached at [email protected].

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17 Comments. Leave new

  • Thomas Wechdeng
    July 28, 2017 5:24 pm

    A huge monthly payment is made by Juba to South Africa every month to keep Riek under house arrest. Shame to South Africa.

  • It is perplexing why SA could not arrest Umar al Bashir who is wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity but could place Dr. Riak Machar under house arrest for standing up against the despicable dictatorship in Juba!

  • Sebit. Abbe Nla. Juba
    July 28, 2017 7:58 pm

    Those interested in Dr.Riak Machar’s release, should directly appeal to the opposition leader Julius Malema of Economic party to help pressure his country’s Vice President Cyril .R who receives money as bribe in order to keep Dr. Riak under house arrest . Second suggestion is for the Nuers or those concern with Dr.Riak, to abduct the entire South Africa embassy staff including ambassador and kill them because they are causing sufferings to our poor citizens.

  • Henry Zoai, Pretoria
    July 28, 2017 9:32 pm

    South Africa deputy is the one who takes payment from Juba.Very shameful for S. African leaders to accept bribes from a killer government. Very bad sign in South Africa politics.

  • GatwechDiang
    July 28, 2017 9:33 pm

    God will punish those who choose blood money over peace.

  • karabu dunia
    July 28, 2017 10:58 pm

    gatwech diang i greee with you bro

  • Fuck South Africa

  • Peter Lam Puol Kang Dit Bay
    July 29, 2017 2:12 am

    Ignorance law of South Africa will still destroy it regardless of whether the leaders were cognizant of this fact.Also showing that South Africa had been wrong judgment and lack of Leadership negative ststematic laws.
    South Africa, teaches the Bible a similar concept and issues a warning to those who called evil good and good evil in Isaiah 5-20 (E.S.V) Example South Sudan president had been law ness person who never thinking or care about the Citizens of Republic of the South Sudan.

  • South African government of Zuma is shaming itself in the eye of the world. It is wrong decision to keep him under house arrest. We thought South Africa is the icon of democracy in Africa. very bad decision indeed. Shae on those who get paid from the government of Kiir.

  • Lou Community
    July 29, 2017 12:45 pm

    Stupid Kiir and Museveni will receive their punishment from higher-uP.

  • Mia Johnson, Pretoria
    July 29, 2017 3:30 pm

    This article confirms what many y fellow South Africans been thinking. We have a useless government bribed by South Sudan dictator called Kiir.
    I am mad at Zuma government. Please let Machar go to where he wants to go.

  • South Africa, should already know that, they had very top time with the white power and their tribalism war they had before. Now if they not learned from that , just following the Africa goldickging leaders like the president of Uganda, Kenya, Egypt and etc, it’s would be very bads relationship from all East Africa countries, because the people of South Sudan knew it exactly Slava Kiir will be defeated and any other country involved to this genocides will payback everything they took from the people of South Sudanese.

  • Nobody want Machar back again because he is

  • Kujurat Adut Kaw
    July 31, 2017 10:11 am

    It’s suprising. Any person following the South African government’s policy would treat this action as commonplace. The present South Africa government under Jacob Zuma killed innocent black South Africans who peacefully demanded their right of pay. This was done in broad day light. The police were ordered to shoot to kill, and after a number of innocent labourers were mowed down, the commanding officer raised his thumb up. What do we expect of this type of government to do with foreign personalities.

    I would urge EFF Party and otehr opposition parties to raise this case and able a motion in their parliament

  • Yes, Mr. Duop, it is not procedural to put someone under house arrest in a country where he or she has no legal case, but it is advisable for a country that has become part and parcel of the peacemaking process in your country, such as South Africa, to arrest a criminal, violent and belligerent tribal leader like Riek Machar! Impartially, can you take a breath and reflect on the horrors Machar, your tribal hero has been committing and inflicting on the people of South Sudan, including is own people, the Nuer?
    If you are an amateur in South Sudan’s affairs and issues, especially Riek’s crimes, here they are: in 1991 he defected and killed thousands in Bor, what became known as Bor Massacre; in 2013 he waged a coup and killed a sizable number of soldiers and civilians in Juba and Bor, too; in 2016 he planned another war at J1 Presidential Palace, where he made a statement reassuring his groups to be calm, and that he was safe, but after he was safely escorted to his home in the evening, he fled Juba for the bush again.
    Riek orchestrated the disgraceful, heartless and brutal target killings of ethnic groups, the people he thought are his arch enemies, forgetting that those unarmed, harmless civilians are the very ones he wants to rule when he becomes a leader. Can such person not be put under house arrest? To make matters worse, Riek refuses to denounce violence even after the declaration of the national dialogue by the president. What else does he expect? People can have differences but when a political solution fails, other avenues for peaceful resolution of conflict, such as national dialogues, can be tried.
    Both parties to the conflict committed atrocities, no doubt about that, it is always good to judge issues without biases.
    Let us wake up from personalizing things and talk the truth, and truth will set us free, as the Bible teaches.

  • My suggestion is for South Sudanese news agency, since this is an organization whoever runs this should have hired a human right lawyers who should go and seeing the release of this man who human rights have been taken a way. That’s only hope. They can do .

  • How I wish both of them should be indicted, that will serve justice for all victims of war crime. it’s what best for a country, most individuals who’ve start or been implicated in hostility have never fulfilled their camouflaged self-interest with claims of better state for the people under them while implicating inocent civiliants in insanely killings.

    i personally believe in peacefull and diplomatic rebellion and problem solving, that’ll be professional in common sense, thats atleast what Mr. Machar or kirr would’ve thought of, but ‘its the old politics (the status quo).’

    a country like S.Sudan will need fresh politicians (not people from the old mlitary background), and strong politicians (with lots of wisdom and knowledge about the current world), because the current government which is filled with war veterants the so called freedom movement or SPLM have lost their agenda.


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