August 27, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan has discovered at least 11,000 ghost police officers, while additional 16,000 names remain to be investigated, the new interior minister, Aleu Ayieny Aleu said.
- Recruits for the Southern Sudan Police Service (SSPS) perform a training exercise at their academy in Rajaf, South Sudan on 7 October 2010 (File photo/UN)
The 11,000 names were detected on the payroll, but did not match the identities of any serving officers.
The anomaly cost the government about 30 million South Sudanese pounds (SSP).
Aleu said he expects the figure to rise to 27,000 if the investigation confirms the mystery over the additional 16,000 names.
If those names turn out also to be fake, the discovery will save the government a combined total of about 73 million SSP.
Reports show that there was a network operating within the police force between senior officers and cashiers involved in inflating the actual strength of the force in order to earn more.
The discrepancy was uncovered during a head count of individual police officers during an exercise jointly carried out by the ministry and the UN police, in which the actual numbers on parade were compared against the figures on the payroll.
Aleu says the move is part of reforms which his ministry had started to implement across the country, with the intention of transforming the police force into a professional institution in the region.
“I want to tell you that it will not be the usual business. Things will have to change. We have identified 11,000 [fake names] during our screening. These names were in our pay list and we have now made the decision to knock them out”, Aleu announced during his first media address since his appointment.
He said the decision was made at a recent police leadership council meeting in the Western Bahr el Ghazal state capital, Wau.
The meeting, which brought together police commissioners and other high-ranking security officers from across South Sudan’s 10 states, is held annually with the view to share experiences, knowledge and resolve security challenges.
LEADERSHIP TAKES ACTION
In a separate interview, police spokesperson Col. James Monday said that the discovery was made as a result of ongoing efforts by the ministry to screen the names of at least 52,000 suspected ghost police officers.
Monday denied claims that the exercise was being carried as part of a ploy to remove certain people from serving in the police service, stressing that the decision was taken by the leadership council.
“This is not a one man decision so that it could be viewed as targeting certain groups of people. It was a decision made by the leadership council at the annual conference which brought more than 180 senior police officers. This was where the leadership decided that these people … be removed”, Monday said.
He says the exercise is part of a reform program currently being carried out by the government in collaboration with the United Nations Police service in a bid to overhaul the institution, which is predominantly made up of former rebel members turned police, as well as boost professionalism and transparency within the force.