July 23, 2014 (JUBA) – Presidential guards protecting South Sudanese president Salva Kiir have been accused of having gone on a rampage, robbing and terrorising citizens as well as foreigners in the national capital, Juba, a senior security official has claimed.
Residents in Juba told Sudan Tribune that soldiers from the Tiger unit of the presidential guards always roam the city with their official pickup trucks, terrorising and looting citizens at night with impunity.
They said the bodyguards allegedly move as night patrol units in disguise and target different suburbs in the city where they victimise residents.
One of the victims of a Tuesday incident at Gudele neighbourhood, west of the presidential palace, told Sudan Tribune he identified soldiers from the presidential guards unit among those who robbed them.
“These were soldiers from the presidential guards. I personally knew many of them. I used to see them standing, guarding the president whenever there were public occasions in which the president is participant,” he told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday by phone.
The victim who preferred anonymity for fear of reprisal said the soldiers were divided into groups going house to house, door to door demanding money, mobile phones and other valuables.
“They threatened me at gun point and took 200 SSP from me. They also took different amounts from my other colleagues. They asked for my mobile phone but I told them I didn’t have a mobile [phone]. One of them warned to come back and shoot all of us dead should we alert the police and disclose their identities,” he added.
He claimed the soldiers were proudly in their presidential tiger unit military fatigues when they carried out the robberies.
He added that foreign nationals from Uganda and Kenya also became victims of such incidents.
One Kenyan national was reportedly shot dead in his house while trying to resist attackers last week in the capital.
SECURITY CONFIRMS INVOLVEMENT
The commander of the joint operations unit in charge of Rock City neighbourhood, Major Deng Malek, has confirmed that soldiers in the presidential guards unit have involved in the robberies.
“Actually there are soldiers involved. I cannot deny that soldiers are involved because one of the criminals we arrested was our soldier from the Tiger unit [presidential guards],” Malek said.
The military official was responding to Miraya FM radio which reported another incident of robbery occurred over the weekend in which seven armed men attacked and looted several households in the city.
A resident said they were “terrorised” while watching movies inside their respective houses.
“They entered the verandah where we were watching movies and then they started telling us to get out from the house. Everybody should get out and sit down… Then they started entering the rooms from room to room and then they got everything,” one of the victims told the UN radio station.
“They looted us. They took the amounts we have at home; they took one phone of our brother here in Rock City.”
“We heard there were some Ugandans and Kenyans who were beaten because they didn’t have 500 South Sudanese Pounds. They were asking each one 500 South Sudanese pounds,” he added.
Earlier media reports also indicated that such criminal incidents are widespread and routine in the capital.
The Citizen newspaper had earlier reported that “armed men dressed in military fatigues on Friday night descended on residences “terrorising the people and demanding 500 SSP from each house hold”.