Juba street brutality while the police helplessly looked on

BY: Abdi Ashkir, JUBA, MAR/16/2013, SSN;

On March, 14, 2013, while we were driving in Juba our car was hit by another car from behind. The driver of that car that collided with my car and I both came out to see the damage caused by the big expensive car which was behind us.

As we came out, an angry young man came out of the car; as I was expecting a conversation as it is the custom all over the world, I was suddenly hit on the face by this young man who looked inexplicably very angry. I couldn’t understand the reason and I was badly shocked.

As I don’t speak Arabic, being a foreign non-Arabic national, I therefore tried to call a friend of mine who could speak for me. However, instead I was brutally and repeatedly punched by another young man also and he took my mobile (cell phone) away from me.

Strangely enough, the South Sudan police and the traffic police arrived at the scene and they witnessed what had happened but did nothing at all. While everybody was there, the young man was loudly shouting at me insults and he was demanding that ‘I sit on the ground and beg for mercy.’

Fortunately, the gathering crowds of passersby came to our rescue and everybody agreed that the other car was in clearly at fault

Few brave South Sudanese came to our help and they directly confronted the aggressors from the expensive car that hit my car from behind.

One man from the crowd was visibly so much angry that he told the young man: “Who gave you the right to tell people to sit on the ground?”

This man from the crowd bravely continued: “I don’t care what position you hold in this country but people have rights under this flag, even foreigners.”

Another bystander courageously explained how he had fought for the freedom of South Sudan and how some people are now abusing the name of the nation and the flag by beating people up just because they can or just because they are from a ruling elite family.

All in all, I am a business man and I travel all over the world, but it is the first time I saw first hand justice on the streets of Juba, South Sudan. Some people are definitely behaving as if they are above the law; it seems because they are driving a big expensive car, they see themselves as more important than anybody else; hence some feel they can even beat up anybody on their way, right or wrongly.

I am traveling back soon, but I would like to send this open letter to any one who loves this country; to anyone who fought for the freedom of this country; to anyone who cares for the image of his/her country.

Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of South Sudanese are people loving and civilized people; however, there are some people who abuse the system, because they know if they are arrested they will be released.

Good people of South Sudan, if you love your country you have to make sure that the objectives and causes fought for tby he founders of this nation are not exchanged with oppression – the exact same thing that they fought against.

It is not good for the image of this country when I explain to my friends back home that I had been abused and assaulted in South Sudan, in front of the police who impotently watched us being mistreated without interfering, despite our having visas to stay in the country, despite being guests of the nation.

I will not keep any hatred in my heart despite having suffered a broken arm.

Nonetheless, I will not only remember how those men humiliated me but I will also gratefully remember those from the South Sudanese public who bravely stood for justice; those who came out to defend me and justice.

You the reader, I remind you to always stand on that side of justice.

Abdi Ashkir


  1. Sorry Abdi,
    It pains someone like me to see this imbecilic behavior in a country that has suffered a lot under various oppressive hands. Thanks for being objective in your perception of the people of South Sudan; most of whom are decent and loving.

    And thanks be to those who stood up for the interest of Justice. History has proven that oppression takes it times, but its fate is always an assured demise. Take heart and continue your great work for we need good-hearted business people like you in South Sudan.

    I grew up admiring the ‘elites’ in Juba, who were our ‘liberators.’ It’s disheartening to see their engendered perennial brutality in Juba every day.

  2. Tyson says:

    I don’t know why you are complaining. You went there because of poverty. Many foreigners in South Sudan are taking advantage of the country. Majority of them are exploiting South Sudanese either in the name of business, humanitarian or development workers. Remember, South Sudanese suffered and continue to suffer for their country. They will soon get on those vultures.
    Better pack up and get back to your country!!!!

    • Aj says:

      Ask yourself few questions such as who supplies people with water, transportation, washing clothes, food, services to juba? I leave you to go and find answers so you can shut your idiotic manners of your reasoning. I haven’t seen any southerners wheeling water into homes like I have seen foreigners do.
      Go to bars, who does services such as serving people or customers? who digs toilets for southerners.

      Abdi is right to at least point out that there are things that need to be done particularly manners of doing things, making decision what critical issues occur. Abdi also didn’t generalized or mentioned a particular group.


      • Longa says:

        It’s your likes that are out destroying this country. If it’s not the likes of Abdi, can you open your mouth? What contribution, if there is any at all, have you given to this country apart from your arrogance and eating what you do not produce?

        As we labour day and night to clean the image of this rotten country, RSS, it’s your like that are destroying it in the name of liberation and making us look fools in the face of the civilized world. Stop this nonsense.

        Either you change or change will make you change.

        Oh God, Help South Sudan.

    • Wani Richard says:

      Dear Tyson,
      Am not sure whether you really understand the content of Mr. Abdi’s letter and if you have not understood, go back and read carefully and always don’t jump in things without analyzing. Mr. Abdi is talking about injustice which’s taking place in Juba against not only on foreigners, even including vulnerable South Sudanese, I believed you are not part of this because you are the son of the Minister

      Dear Bro Abdi, I want to tell you that South Sudan is being spoiled by few elements who call themselves liberators without understating what it means to a new nation but soon we will kick them out. Don’t get surprised to see the expensive car driver/the owner park this car in lodges.

      • Dear Wani Richard.
        Please stop dreaming about kicking the Nuers and Dinkas or the so-called liberators out of Juba. They will never be kicked out or leave Juba voluntarily unless otherwise the new Capital City, Ramciel is completed. They will not be forced out of Juba as the Kokora warlords did during the President Nimeri reign in 1983.

  3. James Lual Garang says:

    May Almighty God bless you for that forgiving heart…. I will not say a word to the oppressor but God will judge you.

  4. Abei Peter says:

    If this story is true, I’m definitely shocked. How does someone feel after behaving that way? All in all, those are the routine events of big towns in South Sudan. I personally witnessed two in Yei and one in Torit. It looks like the police are not permitted to touch some people in this country.

  5. Eastern says:

    Dear Abdi,
    Sorry for what happened. The police in Juba are very selective in their action. Once they notice that the offender could cause their jobs, they always choose not to act including helping the lesser South Sudanese. South Sudanese have quickly forgotten that they are many of their relatives out there; they are distinctive and could be easily spotted out of any crowd. This kind of behaviour of brutalising other human beings must stop!

    • paul says:

      I just came back from South Sudan a month ago and I experienced what Abdi saw in a slightly different way when our car was hit by an army captain who refused to stop to see the kind of damaged he had caused to our car. My uncle and I stepped out of the car and ran on foot to go ask the offender to stop. This so called traffic police were just there, we even asked one of them to stop the car for us but he was scared of the guy because he is captain. Anyway we took a risk of pursuing the car.

      After we approached this man who was still stuck in the traffic, he told us that he was not aware whether he had hit anyone, and if he has hit us then there was no intention at all. Although he was not apologetic in any way, we left him in peace because there was no serious damaged to our car. In fact South Sudanese are generous people and kind in nature but there are some few elites and criminals who are taking advantage of humble majority. I don’t agree with those who say we are being exploited. Who is exploiting us and what is the government doing about it? Even though we were mistreated during the war in the neighbouring countries then I think the best kind of reward is not to pay back the wrong of the past.

      Thanks to all South Sudanese who stand up in support of people like Abdi and the venerable people. Blessings to you all. Long Live South Sudan. Long Live Africa.

  6. anok maketh says:

    Sorry! Abdi for your injury, I want to assure you that South Sudanese are not bad people, known all over the world for their dark smooth skins, hospitality, generosity & kindness. However, some of the very core values have been shaken after many fled to Eastern Africa countries during our struggle. The experiences of mistreatment as refugees & even lost lives, resulted automatically in adopted imported vices back to south Sudan. Now, not only foreigners suffering from such a wicked behavior but also innocent citizens who never fled the country & have no understanding; why fellows treat them that way. This is all new dynamics, brothers/sisters from neighboring countries should understand that or avoid South Sudan all together till a strong justice system establish.

  7. K.Kong says:

    This is indeed a big shame. Procedures should now be put in place as what to do in a traffic accident. These procedures should be advertised in the media.
    The same should go for any other incidents involving not only foreigners but also for local south sudanese.

  8. Anyangaliec says:

    Good that you’ve seen with your own eyes how brave and generous many South Sudanese are when you were harassed by they heartless few? Going forward, I hope you’ll never forget those brave and generous young South Sudanese men who came to your aid. Else, I thank you for the fact that you’ve acknowledged their bravery and generosity. Also, thanks for your concerns for our nation, South Sudan. Last but not least, may Almighty father bless you and safeguard wherever you are. Otherwise, have a safe journey friend!

  9. Steven Puoch Riek says:

    Mr Abdi,
    thanks for sharing your story with the media. There are similar cases happening all over the world, leave alone South Sudan. I apologize to you on behalf of my good people of South Sudan. You have seen the good part of our people on the street who have come to your rescue. This is the real South Sudan those of you have seen on the street supporting you and standing by your side. Safe journey.

  10. Eastern says:

    I suggest all uniformed men and women working in the city of Juba to be tagged so that they become accountable. I am suggesting that if a traffic policeman goes by the name Agel Malith, he should be tagged MALITH100000; the Malith will be his second name and the number 100000 or will be his serial number. If John Uku works as a regular police at the Wau airport he should be tagged UKU100200. This tagging will help the populace to lodge complaints with the respective authorities when officers in uniform misbehave. When they carelessly allow their friends/relative misuse their uniforms, that will be their mistakes and they will have to pay for their sins. This numbering is working elsewhere in the region. When an aggrieved person lodges complaint with the authorities with such evidence, culprits can be made to atone for their crimes; besides, tagged officers is more cautious of their action!!!!! The traffic police officer spectating the assaulting of Mr. Abdi would have been easily reported to their superior!!

  11. Martin.L says:

    Brother Abdi,
    it is very sad indeed that you were mistreated by that shameful South Sudanese. Yes, there are those bad apples among us who behave as if they are above the law. Thank you for bringing forward you ordeal, and wish you soon recovery. As for those bad apples, I hope they will be accountable for their wrongdoings.

  12. Joseph says:

    Dear Abdi,
    This is common in South Sudan even among South Sudanese themselves. The only thing is because you are a foreigner otherwise, if you’re a South Sudanese you did not need to wait but instead you punch him back. This is how problems are still solved in South Sudan, an eye for an eye, a slap with a slap”. Thank God, you have seen the types of these people and i believe they are still wandering in you country claiming that they are schooling but in reality they are reading nothing only arrogance. This young man has also forgotten the story of the deputy interior minister’s son who was knifed in Nairobi 4 times as a revenged on what the people of South Sudan are doing in South to the foreigners. I am really deeply sorry for what has happened to you, brother, but please remember the good citizens in South Sudan who supported you during that inhumane act.

  13. Dut John Okuk says:

    Dear Abdi,
    Sorry for the assault you encountered in our beloved South Sudan. As you have seen, we have both elements, good and bad. The same to every nation under the sun, these elements are everywhere. So, keep on doing your business with us and keep in mind that you will meet some good southerners and wrong ones as well.

    But overall, good southerners outweight the wrong, arrogance, and muffin-headed ones. God bless you on your journey to be a successful business man.

  14. mohaa says:

    I was doing business in Juba and was robbed my entire shop in broad day by uniformed military men while every one including the police were just watching without offering any help. That is the moment I decided to relocate to Nairobi until a government that is different comes into power.

  15. GatCharwearbol says:

    Mr. Mohaa,
    I am so sorry that our men in uniformed caused you to move to Kenya. You are absolutely correct and it is the same kind of treatment you have experienced that prevents many investors all over the world to come invest in South Sudan. Unless a serious government comes to power and sees to it that justice prevails, South Sudan has a long way to go.

    Please, my people of South Sudan, do not tarnish our good name by robbing investors. That culture is not in our traditional lifestyle. I wonder where these few got it from?

  16. Wani Fannan says:

    Dear Abdi
    Thanks for the patience you took and the way you appreciated those south sudanese who stood by you for the sake of justice, indeed the south sudanese i know are God fearing, generous and humble people who can NOT sit back and watch a fellow human being mistreated. I just wanted to assure you that those who do such things are few and they don’t know what they are doing because if they knew they would be sorry for it and those who sing the melody “we liberated” might have not even fired a shot because if they did, they would dare not destroy that which they fought for all these years. I pray that God heals your broken arm and change the minds of those few individuals who are trying to spoil the south sudan society….sorry for all that you went through, as for the Police am sure they also fear such same threats but they must stand strong to enforce law and order as mandated by the constitution, Nobody is above the Law.
    For you my fellow countrymen thank you so much for your quick comments to tell the world that south sudan society is not as others are trying to damage its image.

    Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang, i dont know whether you really know what you are writing and the article you are commenting on, for God sake it is an accident that turned into brutality in front of the police who stood by watching as a man being beaten, try to put yourself in that situation and then think properly. The author did not mention any tribe but was talking about south sudan, our own country which under its Flag we all gather, and you with your three criminalised names jumped out to call tribes when we are here talking about our beloved nation? I suppose your names should have acted a symbol of unity as they depict three different tribes names.

    Grow up, open your eyes. It’s time to nurture this nation and NOT to break it apart……We lost so many beloved and brave people all over south sudan to achieve this nation, what do think will they say in their graves if we are trying to spoil the country they gave their lives for? You should think big and NOT within the circle of your clan. South sudan has so many tribes and God must have placed them together in this country for a good purpose BUT not to be incited against each other. Good night.

  17. Zob says:

    I with four of my friends also faced armed robbery by eight men in uniform having guns. It was 1 am in the weekends. Since our home is 300 meters away from the hotel we were in, we decided to go on foot. Then came eight gun men in uniform who pointed guns on us and asked to sit on the road. It was dusty road & we sat. Then asked to put everything we have on the floor. Except one of us, we all had more than 100 usd & mobile phones. They took all and told us to go. I negotiated with one of them (who looks a leader) to return at least our phones. He agreed and returned our phones then we went to our hotel laughing. But even if the money is small, sitting on the dusty road & the robbery act keeps me irritated.
    Even though such things are expected for a young nation as SS, the deaf ear given by the government is something to think about.

  18. Qutoz Jalut says:

    hhhhhhhhhhh imagine I was talking about south sudan with a friend of mine today trying to visit and invest, guys I totally hate these things , I shall forget about the idea. Thank you Abdi and sorry for what happened to you.

  19. XO says:

    I leaved in South Sudan for over three years and I first handily seen so many corrupted government officials all over the miniseries. You don’t even have to go to the government offices to witness the appalling corrupted government employees in the country; you can see it just on the roads of Juba when committed by the cow boy Traffic Polices. You can see a robbery taking place by the outlaw Traffic Police in the day light.

    I saw the traffic police stopping and abusing the foreigners who are behind a wheel on a regular bases and demand money by falsely accusing them (drivers) of committing road traffic offence. I also witnessed a traffic police assaulting a foreign drivers so many times and what’s funny about it is that they commit these crimes in front of the public and the public give a blind eye to it.

    I also come across to so many southern Sudanese individuals who have a gangster mentally (If you are from juba you would know what I am talking about).

    If you are a foreigner and want to invest or work in South Sudan, please carefully think about what you might encounter on a regular basis such as:
    -The corrupted officials you are going to bump into in the government offices,
    -The looting and harassment which you might encounter as a foreigner on a daily basis.


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