August 20, 2015 (RUMBEK) – A 13-year old shoe-shiner in South Sudan’s Lakes state has appealed to authorities in the state to bring peace and development instead of daily unrest and insecurity.
Matthews Wal, from Rumbek East county said his work in the state capital, Rumbek, has also been affected by insecurity and he explained that his consumers are decreasing, saying most of them were relocating to the capital, Juba, in fear of insecurity in the state.
The young boy said his mother and father were killed in the cycle of revenge killing in Mabor-Duang village between rival Dinka ethnic clans. He fled to the state capital hoping to start a new life. Wal said that he stayed with his uncle in Malakia residential area where he also said he had been experiencing nightmares due to bullet sounds at night.
He urged the state government to put security as first priority and education as phase two of the state program.
Wal explained how difficult he has been struggling to get money on his shoe shiner job for survival, saying he previously get about 70 South Sudanese pounds (SSP) a day, but has now reduced to 30SSP due to economic downturn and relocation of those who used to be his daily customers in the state capital.
“I am really very confused. My work is declining a lot. My customers are going to Juba and they do not return back. [In the past I used to have 70SSP per day but now I am getting only 30ssp per day if I am lucky,” he said.
“If I where state government my first job would had be to improve insecurity to be good – education always work well when people are secure in their residential areas – peace within family members and their neighbours is key to trust government . I am really not sure where we are heading with this state government – I always hear killing and robbery and yet no good voice for help that reaches us,” he said.
He also encouraged his colleagues (street boys) in Rumbek to avoid pocket picking, calling on them to work for themselves for better life.
“I am seeing most of my brothers [friends] being beaten badly by shop owners and police – we are not bad children completely but life had pushed us to direction which was not in our expectation. We need care and not beating or abuse. Bring us peace and development and send us to school- most of us will lead one day,” he advised.
Following the appointment of the military caretaker governor Matur Chut Dhuol in January 2013, he introduced a series of tough new measures, with critics accusing him of ruling the state with “an iron fist.”
Despite the measures, his leadership has been marked by ongoing unrest amid a cycle of inter-clan clashes and revenge killings. The state has been the scene of a fresh wave of violence.
There are growing calls among Lakes state residents for Dhuol’s removal, but president Salva Kiir has so far overlooked the demands.
Local police say state authorities have become increasingly isolated, with the public refusing to share information with law enforcement officers, making it difficult to investigate killings and maintain law and order in the region.