South Sudan civilians pay police for protection
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Juba - Residents of South Sudan's capital
say they are collecting cash to pay police unofficially to
patrol their neighbourhoods, amid a crime wave and a cash crunch
that means authorities often cannot pay their wages.
Robbers killed more than 60 people last month in Juba, twice
as many as in July, according to the Community Empowerment of
Progress Organisation, a civil society organisation in Juba that
tallies violent incidents.
In one incident this month, around 50 gunmen in army
uniforms attacked homes. Armed residents repulsed them and there
were no known casualties, the organisation said. It was unclear
whether the attackers were members of the security forces.
Edmund Yakani, head of the Progress Organisation, said
security was improving in some areas since communities began
collecting cash to pay for police patrols.
South Sudan's nearly four-year-old civil war has slashed oil
production and the cash-strapped government struggles to pay
It has asked foreign donors for help, but the
request is unlikely to be granted since rights groups accuse
security forces of torturing, raping and killing civilians.
The war has displaced a third of the East African nation's
12 million people and spilt into neighbouring states.
At a community meeting last week in the Juba neighbourhood
of Kator East, dozens of residents each agreed to give 100 South
Sudanese pounds (about R200) to hire police to join youth
volunteers in patrolling, said Lucy Ramada, 38.
"Every household was asked to contribute ... for the payment
of extra police personnel that will assist our youth at night,"
she said. Since the patrols began with the paid police, she
added, "there is no sound of gunfire and no robberies".
Police spokesperson Daniel Boulogne said he was unaware of
residents offering police extra pay. A South Sudanese police
officer is paid about 1 500 South Sudanese pounds (about R3000) on average,
about $83 at the current exchange rate.
"We have not asked for any (extra) incentives because it is
our duty to do our best to give them security," he said. He did
not comment on police wages.
Monthly inflation has reached triple digits, and the
scramble for food forces many people into crime, said James
Okuk, a lecturer at Juba University.
"The situation is forcing people to become robbers," he
said. "The situation has been made worse by the government not
paying salaries to its employees, including those carrying guns,
for some months."
Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk told Reuters that some
members of the army and police were under investigation for
robbery but the number was small.