By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
December 14, 2012 (BENTIU) - On Wednesday a team led by Unity state speaker, Simon Maguek Gai, flew into Payinjiar county to meet with civilians after the loss of 11 civilians and 7,000 heads of cattle, according to the county commissioner.
- Nuer herdsman, Nyal payam [district], Payinjiar county, Unity state (Getty).
Khor Chap Biel, a 15 year-old student returned home on Tuesday after four days in the captivity of cattle rustlers, after being captured traveling from Malok village to Payinjiar county headquarters.
“I escaped without being hurt; those who kidnaped me were eight in number, four with AK47s and other four without arms,” said Biel.
He said the rustlers were in disagreement over whether or not to kill him. The majority opted to spare his life in order to use him to find routes to other the cattle camps.
He claimed he escaped during the night when the rustlers were distracted as they broke into a cattle hut, stealing 34 heads of cattle.
Biel told Sudan Tribune on Friday he knew the cattle raiders were from Lake state as they had v-shaped scarification on their faces.
Gai told civilians on Wednesday that the state government is fully aware of the events and that the government “will make sure the lives of innocent civilians and their properties shall be protected.”
He called for calmness amongst the affected civilians.
Gai noted that Payinjiar “had nothing in terms of agriculture due to the previous month’s floodwater.[...] We will make sure to address this to the United Nation agencies to offer food aid assistantance to the victims.”
Payinjiar commissioner, Peter Gai Joak said the raiding that took place in the area was perpetrated by Lakes state cattle rustlers.
Joak said, “this is not what we fought for, it poses a threat to our national security and development. We need to find ways of ending these problems if we want a peace and stability in this country.”
Payinjiar required disarmament in 2011 due to a prevalence of small arms, as a consquence of decades of civil war preceeding the 2005 peace deal that led to South Sudan’s secession in 2011.
The SPLA and police services have vowed to protect communities that have been disarmed but members of the Payinjiar community claim that it has left them vulnerable to cattle raids.