By William Madouk Garang
Eviction of settlers in Highland Block One area of Gumbo Shirikat neighborhood by Rejaf Payam authorities has resulted to two settlers sustaining gunshot injuries and twelve others arrested after they were purportedly assaulted.
This came after the Director of Rejaf Payam, Sarafino Lado on Saturday ordered joint security operatives to demolish settler’s houses in a plot allegedly owned by a Somali businessman.
According to residents, the demolition destroyed approximately 40 houses, and an amount of SSP 29,930,000 including 400 US dollars were lost as well as some heads of cattle, phones and other valuables.
Abuk Majok, one the eviction victims told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper that since her house was destroyed on Saturday they have been sleeping outside in the open with her children.
“We decided first to sleep on the remaining part of the building but we feared that rocks or stones may hurt us. So, we slept outside with my children and cattle,” Ms. Majok said.
“My properties were destroyed, and I am asking the government why you are destroying the properties of the poor?” she questioned.
Another settler, who identified himself as Mawut, said they were not given any ‘notification’ by the authority, however they came and started demolition without prior talk.
Lawmaker at national assembly, representing Awerial County, Anok Abiar Wol said, he is going to hold Rejaf authority liable, asserting that if the case is mishandled they will summon governor over the matter.
“The orders in which citizens were shot are verbal orders given by director of Rejaf Payam, he is the one responsible for that, and I am going to hold him accountable for that,” Wol said.
“This happened last year and we summoned the governor but he didn’t appear before us – this time there is no joke – I am going to summon the governor if it’s not well handled by Central Equatoria State government including Rejaf payam,” he added.
MP Wol stated that some government officials and administrators abuse their powers, adding that what happened was alleged to be an order from President but after a probe, it appeared not.
“They [soldiers] entered the houses and they have looted properties of those people including the money, phones and there are cows which got lost even the children got lost and were recovered yesterday. It was a total destruction,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, Sultan of Highland block one, Mangeth Mading said they held a meeting in 2021 with concerned land authorities in which the land in question was given to them.
“We held meeting with some ministers both from national and state particularly ministry of Land and Housing, commissioner of Juba, Juba Deputy mayor and Legal Affairs minister.”
“All mentioned government departments, ministers and directors we negotiated the issue of the land and the land was given to citizens,” Sultan Mading said.
However, Sub-chief Charles Wani who is also one of the victims, said the owner of the plot Mr. Emiliano through an order from Rejaf Payam sent forces to remove illegal huts but settlers repelled.
Wani said the civilians armed themselves with traditional tools such as knives, sticks and Pangas which led to serious confrontations.
He asserted that people should stop greediness and allocate land equally, citing that this land is enough to accommodate all South Sudanese.
“As a chief my hand are short and the nearest place I come to is Rejaf Payam – because of that I come to director of Rejaf Payam to ask him where will those people who are displaced stay,” he concluded.