25th November 2020
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Some soldiers ‘justify’ Juba night robberies

Author: Okot Emmanuel | Published: Wednesday, November 11, 2020

South Sudanese soldiers pose for a photograph | File photo

Some security officers and members of the public are blaming the government for crimes being committed by men in uniform across the country.

Security officers, who spoke to Eye Radio, say they lack the motivation to do their work because of lack of payment.

They were reacting to public criticism over their indiscipline and extortion of the public.

On Tuesday, residents of Mauna residential area in Juba accused men in uniform of terrorizing and extorting money from them at night.

They said armed men broke into their makeshift houses and robbed them of their money, phones, stereos, bed sheets and other valuables.

President Salva Kiir has in the past accused the police and other organized forces of being behind night robberies in Juba and other towns in the country.

Some officers have been accused and charged of serious crimes related to killing, rape and destruction of civilian properties in areas like Yei.

The then minister of defense, Kuol Manyang described some in the organized forces as weak-hearted for using their weapons to terrorize civilians.

But some observers believe that some soldiers commit night crimes because of their poor living conditions as the government offers them little salary that is paid irregularly, sometimes after nearly six months.

An officer who did not want to be identified by name and rank told Eye Radio that some of her colleagues are forced into crime because of the economic hardship.

Rebecca, not her real name, a corporal in the SSPDF, blames the government for not paying their salaries to enable them to support their families.

“I am a corporal, my salary is 1,710 SSP. What will this amount do? Will it buy a bag of sorghum? It can’t,” she told Eye Radio.

“That is why soldiers are robbing and extorting money from the civilians. The government has failed to consider the welfare of the soldiers.”

Another soldier, who requested to remain anonymous described his living condition as deplorable.

“What am I supposed to do when the salary is not paid for five or six consecutive months? This is the cause of some crimes,” argues the soldier.

Some civilians, who say they have been victimized by some security officers, agree that the lack of salaries for the organized forces is the main cause of indiscipline and rise in crime rates among security personnel.

They urged the government to prioritize payment of wages for the organized forces and other civil servants.

“These robbers are not anybody, but soldiers. Please pay the salaries of these soldiers for us to rest,” John Peter told Eye Radio.

A private in the army receives as little as about 5 US dollars per month.

The government gets both oil- and nonoil revenues in hundreds of millions of dollars monthly.

But corruption watchdogs say all these monies are mismanaged by senior government officials, including the presidency.

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