Commander warns looters of dire consequences

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[Yei, South Sudan,TCT] The Operations Commander in Yei River State has warned individuals involved in looting of civilian property that they will face serious consequences for their actions. Speaking at Christ the King Church in Yei, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Aboja said his soldiers would not allow such acts to continue in Yei.

“To anyone who takes someone else’s property, if you don’t have a bed or a chair, then you can not go and break into someone’s home. However, know that when you do this, you have taken their seat and bed from them,” he said, causing a crowd of Christians to applaud.

The Commander spoke to Christians after meeting different stakeholders including local chiefs, youth, women, church leaders, and government officials last week on the need of improving security in Yei.

Displaced local residents, government officials, and church leaders have been reporting that looting has occurred on their premises because of the current violence.

Commander Aboja reminded the crowd that looting or taking someone else’s property by force will negatively impact the people.

“This is not good. You, who are taking your neighbours’ belongings, God has seen what you have done and he will remember your greed,” he said.

Following the arrival of the new force in Yei, citizens and leaders testified that there have been fewer acts of random gunshots and looting in the last three weeks.
With improvement in security, Aboja said residents should not leave their homes, assuring residents that there is now a force prepared to respond to any security risk.

“I have come to Yei to protect everybody here. We want the civilians to go and harvest the crops in their gardens,” he said.

He added that his force is available to protect civilians and their property and to restore peace and promote stability in the area. Commander Aboja also advised residents to report any illegal behaviour by soldiers to authorities.

“I will keep my soldiers in check, so that no one feels trapped by the violence in the area. If you want to travel then no one should have to ask where you are coming from and going to,” he said.

Yei Catholic Bishop Erkolano Lodu Tombe thanked the Commander for his new force which had led to decreased incidents of crime in Yei. However, he urged him to double his efforts in enhancing security during the Christmas and New Year celebrations. He said the government should make increasing security in Yei a priority.

“I think that with their presence, our Christmas can be a Christmas of peace. We hope this Christmas, we will hear no reports of gunshots or looting,” he said.

Jacob Aligo Lo-Lado, the area member of Parliament, clarified to the public that the force in Yei is for peace not for war. He is leading ‘Yei Community Forum for Dialogue for Peace’, a body formed in the aftermath of the July crisis in Juba. The forum’s goal is to speak with the armed groups to seek a non-violent solution to their issues, and to cultivate peace amongst Yei’s 64 tribes.

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