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REPORT: Facts and Analysis on Shirkat Lual Marine Incident

Sept 4, 2020(Nyamilepedia) —  In response to the shooting that claimed six lives and injured eight others at Shirkat on June 3, 2020, President Salva Kiir established a high profile committee through the Republican Order No 15/2020 to investigate the incident and report back to him within seven days.

The committee was established on June 4th, 2020 in accordance with the powers conferred upon the President under article 101 (t) of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011 (as amended), read together with section 5 (1) and 6 of the Investigation Committees Act, 2006.

The committee was initially composed of seven (7) members, including the Chairperson, who were selected by virtue of their official capacities; however, after realizing that all the seven committee were from the same tribe, and mostly from the region of president Kiir, the committee resolved to co-opt additional five members to give the committee a national face.

Three months later, on September 3, 2020 [yesterday], the committee officially released their final report with the following facts and analysis.

Begin the facts and analysis:

FACTS & ANALYSIS

The land dispute that flared into crisis began as an individual dispute involving certain AJITH JOOK YOR, a civilian who constructed and operated a public toilet in the vicinity, and Lt. Col LUAL AKOK WOL (popularly referred to as LUAL MARINE). The latter was an SSPDF military officer in (M.I.) Unit who randomly chose a piece of land to erect two rows of iron-sheets shops next to Ajith’s already existing public toilet. Ajith’s facility was built in the compound of Bor Bus Station referred to as ‘Bor Bus Park’. The land on which this dispute happened is allotted to and registered in the name of Mr. DAVID GORE FAUSTINO at Tokeman East Payam. The landlord then leased his property to the management of Bor Bus Park. The management sub-leased a limited space in the compound to Ajith to construct a toilet for public use. But part of the land was used for burial over the time.

Eventually, the local authority marked the graveyard then fenced and closed down that limited area. The same local authorities had promised to compensate the landlord for that lost piece of land which was part of his registered property.

At a later stage, Lual Marine came in to the area and raised his construction on the closed graveyard. The fence that he drew around his shops was extended to enclose part of the toilet’s driveway reserved for sewage-tanks (vehicles) to occasionally empty the septic pit.

The fence extension therefore put the public toilet out of use and halted Ajith’s business completely. Ajith failed to persuade Lual Marine to remove his fence from the toilet building and the obstruction continued for a couple of months. The toilet’s owner complained in writing against Lual Marine taking his petitions to the local authority and SSPDF HQs.

The local authority took note of that complaint and proceeded to form an investigation committee to visit the area. The committee inspected the site on 01/4/2020. It then made the recommended that Lual Marine’s ongoing unauthorized construction should cease and the erected structures to be removed. Instead, the recommendation was not heeded or implemented.

The shops construction on the graveyard continued unabated On 2nd June 2020, Lual Marine arrived to his shops to find that Ajith had mobilized many people and all were busy pulling down the shops and fence using hand-tools. Lual Marine and Ajith were then engaged in a heated argument and Lual Marine was quoted to have been physically assaulted by the mentioned group. He therefore proceeded to the nearby Rajaf Police Station to report the incident against three specific individuals namely Ajith, Malith Yol and Deng Yol. He secured a warrant of arrest that was issued against those three individuals. But the arrest could not be carried out on the same day, because it was late in the evening and the crowd, including the three suspects, had already scattered and left the scene before the police arrived with the arrest warrant.

On 3rd June 2020, Lual Marine left from his house in Juba town and proceeded to Gumbo/Shirkat early in the morning. He was accompanied in the short trip by his six body-guards. It was later mentioned in the hearings that Lual Marine had also expected to hold a meeting with Ajith on arrival to Gumbo/Shirkat to discuss their land dispute. The meeting was proposed on the earlier day by the area Chief Mayen Dau.

On arrival, Lual Marine discovered that a large crowd armed with sticks and hammers gathering in the compound and busy dismantling his property as it was done on the previous day. When he tried to talk to them Ajith and two others proceeded to slap him on the face, hit the back of his head with a hammer and beat him on the forehead with a steel bar.

Immediately, Lual Marine fell down unconscious before he could even utter a word or show any resistance to the attack. At that point his panic-stricken body-guards, who claimed to have also been under attack, began shooting randomly leading to the killing and injury of a number of people that were in the bullets range. The crowd ran around in a rampage.

The incident resulted in the death of six (6) people, injury of eight (8) others and destruction of public and private property. Some sporadic demonstration erupted shouting political slogans against the government in the vicinity. The growing and rowdy mob proceeded to loot and burn down Lual Marine’s nearby house, destroy government vehicles, obstruct traffic on the main road and vandalize property.

The escalation was eased and calm restored to Gumbo/Shirkat area on the same day following the intervention of various security elements and the goodwill efforts exerted by some dignitaries and community leaders.

The dead, injured and damaged property were considered and determined during the hearings and site visits that were organized by the investigation committee. Various charges were levelled against the arrested persons. The reported cases came under sections 48 (acts committed by several persons of common intention), 79 (public violence), 177 (public nuisance), 80 (participating in gathering with intent to promote public violence), 81(Obstructing or endangering free movement of persons or traffic), 83 (disorderly conduct in public place) and 95 (public servant disorderly receiving money or property not due) of the Penal Code Act 2008.

Others had been charged under sections 48 (acts committed by several persons of common intention), 224 (force and criminal force), 223 (assault), 245 (criminal intimidation), 315 (mischief), 235 (causing grievous hurt) in addition to 206 (murder) and 236 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt on provocation) of the Penal Code Act, 2008. a).

  1. f) Damaged property

A cursory examination of the facts might lead to the conclusion that the dispute was basically between two individuals namely Lual Marine and the owner of the public toilets. Both of them have their separate private residence and different geographical and communal group in Gumbo/Shirkat.

In reality the conflict had resulted in some communal mobilization reflected in the character and sentiments of the group that gathered at the scene during the incident and proceeded to grow in size and led the ensuing demonstrations on the main road heading to Rajaf County Offices and Police Station.

Read the full report here

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