December 23, 2011 (RUMBEK) - The parliament of Lakes state was told by county commissioners on Thursday that cattle raids have killed at least 249 and injured 319 since January 2011.
- Rumbek East Commissioner, David Marial Gumke, address the Lakes state parliament in South Sudan, while being watched by speaker John Marik (Right), 23 Dec. 2011 (ST)sitted
The figures from just three counties in Lakes state show that insecurity remains a major problem for South Sudan, which became independent in July as part of a peace deal with Khartoum.
In two counties alone nearly 17,000 cattle were stolen this year commissioners told a special inquiry into the practice in Rumbek, the capital of South Sudan’s central state.
The commissioners for Rumbek North, Cueibet, Yirol West and Rumbek Central counties all attended the parliamentary questions which lasted from Monday to Thursday. The commissioner of Rumbek East County arrived a day late and was told his evidence would be heard in January.
Speaking in parliament, Cueibet county commissioner, Isaac Mayom Malek, said his county had experienced several raids from both within Lakes state and from neighboring states.
Cueibet county had lost 87 people in cattle raids this year, he said, with a further 105 people wounded.
Mayom claimed that 4,906 cows had been looted in 2011. County authorities had managed to return only 314 cows, he said. A further 51 will be repatriated after Christmas.
According to Isaac Mayek Noah, the commissioner of Rumbek North, his county had been affected by cattle raids because they have disarmed themselves.
He said that attacks from cattle raiders in Unity state and other areas had killed 152 people, injured 192 sustain so far this year. He added that 12,081 cows were looted over the same period, of which only 232 were returned to their owners.
Mayek affirmed that his county authority had arrested 9 people on suspicion of involvement in cattle raids.
Matur Majok Magol, the commissioner of Rumbek Central, said that over the past 12 months 10 people being killed and 22 injured in raids. Majok added that 8 suspects are being held at Rumbek’s main prison.
However, he said that 6 suspected criminals had escaped to other East African countries, including north Sudan.
The commissioners appealed to the Lakes state parliament to empower the judiciary to settle cases urgently.
Speaking at the end of session, speaker John Marik Makur thanked the four commissioners who managed to appear before parliament for their reports.
Marik said parliament would deliberate on the reports and communicate back to the commissioners with the actions they intend to take to address the issue.
Cattle are used to pay dowries in South Sudan and are a symbol of wealth and prestige. This combined with the poverty of the newly independent country and the prevalence of small arms have made the problem persist after South Sudan signed a peace deal with north Sudan in 2005.
The Lakes state parliament has adjourned the hearing of Rumbek East County commissioner David Marial Gumke to January 3, 2012 after he failed to attend the meeting with the other commissioners on Thursday.
Commissioner Marial, told Lakes state August House that he had failed to appear before parliament due to his wife’s sickness in Juba. However the MPs refused to listen to his report until January.
Finance and Health Minister Summoned
On Friday the Lakes state parliament also summon for the minister of Finance, Trade and Industry Pur Chienggan Dakbai and Minister for Health Dr. Samuel
Mayek Deng to appear in the second week of January.
MPs are expected to question the finance minister other potential misuse of funds, while the health minister will be quizzed on delays in paying the salaries of health workers. The delays have caused protests in Awerial, Cueibet, Yirol West and Yirol East counties.
The speaker of the parliament, John Marik Makur, told MPs that they had the right to summon any official for questioning.