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Heated debate sparks in parliament over cattle raid

By Bida Elly David

 

Ongoing cattle raiding in South Sudan sparked a heated debate in parliament, on Monday, with lawmakers calling for an end to killings and revenge attacks.

The debate arose after a lawmaker, Hon. Awel Mawien Atem, representing Yirol East County of Lake State, tabled an urgent motion of public concern, on injury of 11 youths during a cattle raid.

“On the eve of April 15, 2024, an armed group from Panyijar County, Unity State, attacked the Alier Cattle Camp of Yirol East County, injuring some people and stealing several heads of cattle from the camp,” she said.

However, MP Mawien said the raided cattle were later recovered.

“The eleven victims are right now on treatment in Yirol and Juba, and some of them suffer life-threatening injuries. The government does not have a mechanism to treat or even compensate such victims,” she echoed.

The lawmaker stated that another attack on May 8 was waged in Tinagau Payam, Lakes State, where two people were killed and 122 cattle were raided.

She stated that cattle raiding across South Sudan is routine every year, adding that it will be dangerous if no government intervention is made.

“The impact of cattle raiding causes insecurity and inter-communal conflict that claim many lives of youth, men, and children across the country,” she echoed.

She said such incidents happen in addition to the socio-economic situation, as most of the communities across the country depend on cattle.

Samson Amule, a lawmaker representing Lainya County of Central Equatoria under the SPLM ticket, stressed that the activity has not only affected Lake State but most parts of the country.

He accounted for the ongoing cattle raiding and the availability of guns in the hands of the pastoralists, particularly the youth.

He suggested the need for the sources of the gun supply to the cattle camps to be probed accordingly.

“This big element is the issue of people who are well armed behind their individual animals in their camps; when you go to each camp, you see 13 to 14 PKMs for guiding cattle,” Amule cited.

He urged the need for comprehensive disarmament of the herders as the only solution to stop raiding and killing in the country.

“I pity the animals we have in South Sudan; they should put down or surrender the guns and let the state take care of the cattle,” he added.

Hon. Nyau Lang, representing Jonglei State, supported the Amule call for the disarmament exercise to be carried out, saying that with this, it will end the ongoing raiding.

“We need to go for a general disarmament so that issues of cattle raids will stop and our people will go back to their traditional spearheads, and this is the only solution to help us,” he said.

Another lawmaker, Stephen Ajongo, suggested summoning the ministers of interior and defense before the house to answer queries on the suppliers of guns to the cattle herders.

“We have been coming up with recommendations, but cattle raiding keeps repeating all over South Sudan. To put this to an end, we want these people to tell us the reasons behind the guns,” he said.

Meanwhile, Amule Michael Lasu, a lawmaker hailing from Central Equatoria State, said formulating laws and policies concerning pastoralism will remedy the situation.

“We need to develop a law that can guide the ongoing cattle raiding, including the way cattle are kept, because we have been facing a lot of problems regarding the cattle,” he submitted.

Amule testified to the invasion of Ambororo cattle herders in Central Equatoria, causing destruction to firms, among others.

Gatwich Lam, a lawmaker from Nasir County, stated in his view that cattle herders are stronger than the national army, saying the practice would not have been ongoing.

Meanwhile, Nathaniel Oyet Pierino, the first deputy speaker of the Assembly, suggested the need for the government to enforce the laws against those practising cattle raids.

House Speaker Rt. Hon. Jemma Nunu Kumba appreciated the MPs for exhausting the topic of cattle raiding, saying all the recommendations would be compiled and forwarded to the council of ministers for consideration.

 

 

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