March 3, 2021(Nyamilepedia) — The South Sudan government has cracked the whip on land grabbers in Central Equatoria state netting in 45 people among them top military officials.
According to an official in the state governor’s office, all the apprehended culprits were from Jonglei state.
The law breakers were all arrested as they were in the act of illegally demarcating land in Mangalla village.
While confirming the arrests, Colonel James Dak who is the Deputy spokesperson for South Sudan’s National police said that the suspects were rounded up on Thursday.
“They started occupying people’s land without knowing who owns that land and they started building in it, then at the end of the day the dispute will start. Instead of going to the land department to know who owns the land and also to make documents first, somebody just builds in the land using the power of his status; being from the forces or the security and threatening people who own the land,” said the Colonel.
Alesendro Jada, the executive chief of the Radolo Boma in Mangala Payam said that the suspects who include top military officers threatened locals with firearms when surveying the land.
“The land grabbers started distributing our land to themselves on 2nd November. We went to the governor and he came to talk to them. When the governor was there, they were found sitting at their tables registering people. The governor told them to stop what they were doing but once the governor returned to Juba, they came back the next day,” explained a furious Jada.
He urged the state authorities to cease illegal land grabs to allow villagers who own the land to go about their business undisturbed.
The press secretary in the office of Central Equatoria Governor, Derrick Derrickson, said that the arrests of the suspects were executed following new orders from Governor Emmanuel Adil Anthony.
He insisted that the governor condemned “in the strongest terms possible” such action and that he was committed to solving land issues.
“They will be dealt with accordingly and the law will be upheld in full force on them, because this is very illegal as per our constitution and this cannot be tolerated in one way or the other,” said Derrickson.
The call for action by the governor follows an open letter to governor Adil by community leaders in Central Equatoria state urging him to address the land grabbing issue.
This is not the first time they had written to the governor raising concern over the issue.
Brigadier General Santo Dominic who is the spokesperson for the South Sudan People Defense force was quick to distance the defense forces from the vice.
He said that any soldier who tries to take land illegally is doing so as an individual entity and should be charged in a court of law.
“A blanket accusation should not be given to the military in regard to that, so it is a good development if all the leadership of Central Equatoria is able to arrest some culprits regarding this issue of land from anybody,” said Dominic.