By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
September 21,2012 (KAMPALA) – Confusion reigns as authorities issued significantly different figures for the number cattle raided during an attack on Payijiar county in August.
During the 11-12 September peace conference in Unity state, Payinjiar county commissioner, Peter Gai Joak said on the 25 August over 400 heads of cattle were reported stolen by a group of rustlers.
Abraham Mayen Kuc Rumbek, the Rumbek commissioner said it has arrested 8 thieves, five of which were armed with guns and three with spears. They were apprehended in Lakes state are were responsible for the theft of 41 cattle, which are now in the hands of the authorities and will be returned to their rightful owners.
Kuc said he was informed by the Payinjiar commissioner that more than 100 heads of cattle were stolen by the rustlers suspected of coming from Lake state, causing a great deal of confusion.
On 28 August the Payinjiar Commissioner released a press statement to South Sudan television and Sudan Tribune saying that 400 heads of cattle were raided by a group of unidentified rustlers from Lake state.
Following the peace conference, Payinjiar county executive director claimed 500 heads of cattle were stolen in Payinjiar.
In a recent peace conference organised by Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations and Maintenance (AECOM) International and funded by the US Agency for International Development the figures given by the Payinjiar and Rumbek authorities for the number of cattle stolen in August differed significantly.
Payinjiar and neighbouring Rumbek have seen numerous instance of cattle raiding.
The meeting was a follow-up to an earlier one commonly referred to peace conferences between the Nuer and Dinka communities facilitated by Riek Machar and John Garang in 2001 and 2002.
The recent Wunlit meeting was facilitated by the New Sudan Council of Churches and traditional leaders from Bhar-El-Gazal and Upper Nile.
Conference participants, including non-governmental organisations, discussed the epidemic levels of cattle-rustling which have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.