High poverty levels fuel rising crime in South Sudan

JUBA, Sept. 19– The rising levels of crime involving armed robbery, house break in and petty theft in South Sudan’s capital Juba and along major highways is driven by high levels of poverty and laxity within the law enforcement agencies, experts said on Sunday.


Since the renewed clashes in Juba last year, there has been increasing levels of crime hugely driven by worsening economic crisis amid hyper inflation, leaving most civil servants, law enforcement agencies without salaries for the past four months. Edmund Yakani, the executive director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) which has been monitoring crime, blamed the worsening economic situation which has led to high prices of food and social services for the high crime.”From June 2017 the incidences of armed robbery during night hours have increased by 5 percent in comparison to the period from December to March. Breaking into NGOs office by armed robberies has increased from one incident per month during December 2016 to 2-3 incidences per month from June 2017,” Yakani said. He blamed some rogue officers from the security forces for being accomplices in the crime wave that has forced some humanitarian organizations to reconsider operations in certain areas. “Areas of high incidences of robberies became areas of low interest for NGOs to operate in. For example the recent decision of International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) for closing operations in Western Equatoria was due to the killing of their staff (driver) in Amadi state area of Kotobi,” he said.


However, SPLA spokesman Brigadier Lul Ruai Koang told Xinhua that they were acting on errant soldiers who have been involved in robberies. “It is not a new story. It happened some three weeks back, when a ring of organized crime was discovered led by a Lt. Colonel. He was arrested along with his colleagues,” Koang said. The army spokesman added that they have since beefed up joint security patrols involving the police and SPLA around hotspot areas to curb crime. South Sudan police (SSNP) spokesman Justine Buolo disclosed that some criminals in army uniforms have been masquerading as soldiers. “Robbery cases are at times complicated, because when you investigate them, you find that the perpetrators are not registered in the armed forces,” he said.Buolo added that on the contrary the cases of robbery have reduced since August compared to previous months, though he conceded that they registered a recent case of armed robbery in Gudele suburb.


Jacob Chol, professor of comparative politics at Juba University, said that most civil servants and law enforcement organs such as the police and organized forces have not received their salaries in the last five months which has led to laxity in enforcing the rule of law. “There is laxity for (police) them to enforce the rule of law the way they used to do it five years ago. This indicates that even if there are criminals in the neighborhood, it is unlikely when you call 999 and police will come and rescue you because they don’t have that will, energy, motivation and sometimes they don’t have fuel,” he observed. Chol also revealed that the prevailing level of crimes are divided into small scale crimes where young people break side mirrors of cars, and high level crimes involving use of guns. “There are no economic activities in the country and therefore a lot of youth are not getting jobs and the best way now they feel like to earn their living is just to steal. So, all these are being factored in because of poverty, it has reached a very high level in South Sudan,” Chol explained. He said that South Sudanese have lost hope, because the peace agreement that was signed in 2015 between the warring parties to end more than three years of conflict is being implemented slowly than expected and there seems to be no economic recovery.”A lot of people have lost their hope and have just gone the way of becoming criminal to make ends meet,” he said. – XINHUA


SUDAN: JUBA, Jan. 9, 2017 (Xinhua) — Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) prepare food at a temporary camp near Juba International Airport in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Jan. 7, 2017. (Xinhua/Gale Julius)