December 14, 2014 (BOR) – The Jonglei state government has strongly condemned the fatal shooting of three Ugandan traders in Bor’s Marol market last Wednesday.
The victims – two men and a woman – were allegedly shot dead by a police officer who opened fire in the marketplace.
In a statement dated 12 December, caretaker governor John Kong Nyuon described the killings as a criminal act carried out by a mentally impaired individual.
Another Ugandan and a Sudanese national were also injured in the incident.
Nyuon has described the attack as an isolated incident and that security had since been stepped up in the state capital.
A series of security meetings were held in Bor on Friday and Saturday to address ongoing threats to the public and discuss security arrangements over the Christmas period.
Hundreds of traders and other members of Bor’s Ugandan community held a protest following the incident, appealing for the government to provide better protection.
“Why Ugandans every time? We are harassed by police and the citizens every time. Why us?” shouted one young protester in the crowd.
Community representative Juko Godfrey who led the protest said the community had submitted a letter to Bor municipality demanding better protection for Ugandan citizens in the state.
“We want to meet the governor of Jonglei state today (Thursday). What we need is security, what we need is peace because we are one. What we need is security for our people,” said Godfrey.
Police commissioner Brigadier General Thukul Ayom appeared speechless when approached by Ugandans protestors on Thursday morning.
He has yet to make any public statements on the motive behind the attack.
Addressing Ugandan protestors on Thursday, Bor mayor Nhial Majak condemned the incident, saying those that commit criminal acts would be dealt with accordingly.
“Whoever is found committing such crimes will be dealt with by a full force of law. We will not compromise this for anything,” said Nhial.
Meanwhile, Bor county commissioner Mamer Ruk asked the Ugandan community to accept his condolences.
“Somebody who is the enemy to peace did it. We don’t separate people of Uganda and [the] people of South Sudan; we are one community,” he said.
“The people of Uganda have supported us during the time of struggle up to the present day. We cannot forget the contribution of the people of Uganda,” he added, alluding to Ugandan military support for government forces battling to contain an armed rebellion in the country for the past 12 months.
Relatives of the alleged culprit said the man had a long history of mental health issues, which may have contributed to the attack.
The office of the Criminal Investigation Department in Bor said the man would be sent for independent tests to verify the claims and to determine whether he was fit to stand trial.
A police source, who witnessed the attack and was also present during an initial investigation session on Friday, said the man appeared to have no knowledge of what he had done and repeatedly questioned officers on why he was in prison.
Other witnesses remember seeing the suspected gunman threatening a group of people at the market with his gun after they mocked him as he was passing by.
The name and details of the accused where sealed by the state’s security agency and will only be made public if or when the case comes to court.
Peter Deng Gai, who was playing dominoes with a group of Ugandans in the area at the time of the attack, saw the unknown policeman approaching the market between two narrow fences, before he began firing indiscriminately at the crowd.
“That officer came behind us because there were two fences. There was a path between those two fences and when he came in, there he started by opening fire on those Ugandans, and when we saw people falling down we start running,” he said.
“He (the gunman) saw us running and immediately started shooting at us, so the shooting was not meant for Ugandans; he was shooting randomly,” he added.
Gai escaped the attack with only minor injuries, sustained during a fall when he was fleeing to safety.