August 14, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudanese civilians whose items were stolen during the fighting in Juba last month have questioned sincerity of the South Sudanese national army, the SPLA, to return the loots.
SPLA spokesman Brig. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang announced on Friday that items including generators, cars and other valuable households have been recovered from soldiers allied to President Salva Kiir. But Koang said owners must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the items are theirs.
"We would like the owner to come forward with engine number, serial number and the power number, the capacity of the generators and cars,” said Lul in a recovered message to state-owned SSBC TV.
He said failure to present those identifiers, anyone claiming ownership may not be allowed to take it.
But South Sudanese whose items were looted from their shops and homes decried the conditions laid down by the military. John Andruga had his shop broken into in Gudelle, a western suburb of Juba that witnessed fierce clashes between the SPLA in Government (SPLA-IG) loyal to President Salva Kiir and those SPLA in Opposition (SPLA-IO) loyal to former First Vice President, Riek Machar.
"The soldiers took my generator and damaged the shop after looting everything," he said, speaking to Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
"So I don’t have any document because all items were destroyed or completely taken away by the soldiers," he added.
He said he cannot remember the serial number of his generator.
"If the SPLA is serious about returning the looted items, let them ask the soldiers from whom the item was recovered to tell them where he got it," he added.
Alongside Gudelle, Jebel Market, the second largest shopping center in Juba, was also vandalized. David Madavi, a Ugandan trader, owned a shop in Jebel Market. His items were taken when soldiers broke the door to his shop.
"I am completely frustrated and last thing I can remember about my stolen items is their serial numbers," said Madavi, who has refused to return to Uganda after Kampala evacuated her citizens last month.
Deng, a South Sudanese national who wished to be identified by one name, said his car was robbed by soldiers with all the documents including car logo book and other registration documents.
"Now, if the army is saying we should go to Bilpam [headquartes of the SPLA in Juba], where will I get the identification documents to claim my car?" said Deng.
"I think the SPLA is not sincere. They simply don’t want to return the loots items to owners," he added.
Government soldiers, who forced small number of SPLA in opposition forces out of Juba in fierce streets battle for four days in Juba, turned to shops, homes and took civilians items.
The army headquarters in Juba constituted a martial court to try soldiers accused of engaging in looting but the court has not sat yet. SPLA spokesman, Koang, said 19 soldiers have been arrested and will be arraigned in the military court soon.
South Sudan army is struggling to modernize its ranks amidst accusations of abusing their power against civilians. The former rebels became the national army at independence from Sudan in 2011 but the 2013 conflict led to division along tribal lines.
Critics say the current army constituting SPLA under President Kiir and SPLA IO under Machar are tribal armies fighting for political power of their bosses.