In 2007, the Toposa of Namorunyang boma marched to a farm belonging to BUDI citizens of Talla boma and massacred fifty-four (54) people. Among the dead were children, women and men who could not flee the attack as they were outnumbered and surrounded by heavily armed Toposa men.
We want to inform the world that the history of this massacre along BUDI county’s territories bordering Toposa land has been repeated by the same tribe (Toposa). On May 19, 20, and 23, 2016 respectively, heavily armed Toposa men of Kapoeta East County launched a multifaceted and well-organized attack that took fifty(50) innocent people’s lives including women and children.
The news reached BUDI County citizens world-wide that Ngatuba village of Ngauro Payam was under attack by heavily armed Toposa men of Kapoeta East County.
At first, it was speculated that the heavily armed Toposa men of Kapoeta East County carried a cattle raiding operation that is normally common in the area. However, this was inherently different, tactical, too advanced and well-organized typical attacks.
Toposa armed men stormed the villages with the aim to kill people, burn houses, and looted everything including grains, goats and cows. In the history of cattle rustling between the two tribes, this merciless attack has never occurred before. The shooting bombardment alone was devastating according to eye witnesses. The fire power could not be matched by any retaliatory attempt to repulse the Toposa heavily armed men.
As a result of these attacks, many people died and properties were damaged as outlined below:
Bohorora – May 23, 2016
30 people confirmed killed (among the dead, 14 children, 9 women & 7 men)
5 people confirmed wounded
30 Houses confirmed burnt
17 Granary grain storage burnt
1 kraal of cattle and 8 Kraals of goats taken
Ngatuba – May 19, 2016
14 people confirmed killed (among the dead, 10 children, 3 women & 1 man)
6 people confirmed wounded
22 Houses confirmed burnt
All goats and cattle taken
Ngauro – May 20, 2016
5 people confirmed killed and cattle taken
Chareet – May 20, 2016
1 person confirmed killed and cattle taken
The wounded were lugged by foot to the Chukudum general hospital which is about twenty miles away from the attack location. Houses were torched while people were trapped inside. There was no escape as the Toposa armed men surrounded each home and shooting anyone trying to escape out of the houses set on fire. The majority victims perished inside the burnt houses, while others who attempted to flee the attack were shot on the run.
As the Toposa armed men continued to conduct their shooting and burning of homes to ashes, they were also busy looting grains from the granary storages and then setting them on fire. Any belongings they could lay their hands on, including goats and cows were taken.
On May 20th, 2016, another group of heavily armed Toposa men raided village called Chareet. This is where they also managed to ransack the village, killed one (1) person and stole cows. The same night, another attack was launched in Ngauro town and five (5) people were also confirmed killed along with all the cattle being stolen.
In just two days of attacking and killing the people in Ngatuba, Chareet, and Ngauro villages, the Toposa launched a massive assault against people of Bohorora, and Locioto village killing thirty (30) people. All properties were destroyed and goats and cattle were stolen.
It was at this point when the Budi County Commissioner got the news and was very concerned of the devastation caused by the Toposa armed men. The Budi county Commissioner decided to pay a visit to the governor of the newly created Namorunyang state, Mr. Luis Lobong Lojore.
Together they drove off to a small town called Narus where they were informed the Toposa men were gathered at an undisclosed location to launch these massive attacks. The undisclosed location was where the entire operation had been planned and executed.
The governor questioned the Toposa elders who were present at the undisclosed location as to why they launched the attack against the Didinga people. The Toposa admitted that they did so in retaliation of their abducted eighteen (18) children and raided cattle by the Didinga tribe.
Governor Lobong then inquired if the matter was reported to their local community authorities. The Toposa elders could not confirm if the matter of the missing children was reported to any community authorities or government officials available in their areas.
The present Toposa chiefs were also asked if the Toposa families of the abducted children did reported the matter to them; the chiefs also could not confirm any report on the abducted children by the Didinga people.
At this point of interrogation, the Toposa could not verify the allegation against their counterpart (the Didinga people) for abducting the eighteen children and the raiding of cattle. This is where it appears the Toposa could not come up with clear evidence of their allegation and the reason to attack people of BUDI County and along the affected villages.
As the story continues to unfold, the Toposa armed men appeared to be consumed by the amount of fire power they possessed. We have confirmed reports that the Toposa armed men took advantage of our country’s fragile situation and exploited all avenues of acquiring weapons and unlimited ammunitions from unknown suppliers. Everyone is appalled by the fire power displayed by these heavily armed men from Toposa region.
The weapon used during this operation includes: PKM Machines guns, Grenade Rocket Propelled Launchers, AK 47s and other sophisticated brands of assault rifles.
We also understand that the Toposa people of Namorunyang boma are not contented with Ngauro becoming a county and will be awarded to the Didinga people when the new Namorunyang state is established. The Toposa claimed that Ngauro does not belong to the Didinga people and that it is their cattle grazing territories.
The Toposa have wanted Ngauro to be annexed to Namorunyang boma. It is contentious region they have conducted several killing sprees against the Didinga people so to scare them away.
On many occasions the defiant Toposa heavily armed men have encroach closer to the people’s farms in Ngauro town and deliberately allowed their cattle to graze on it. Other times, they will invade the town and killed innocent and unarmed people for nothing.
With all this destruction caused by the Toposa armed men, the governor, Mr. Luis Lobong Lojore, did not visit or dispatch law enforcement to rescue or investigate the situation at the attacked villages. During these attacks, the governor also did not order any emergency medical response team to check on the conditions of the wounded individuals. All the wounded were lugged to Chukudum general hospital about twenty miles away on foot.
For the people of Budi County, the supposedly people’s government that is obligated to protect its own citizens has done the opposite of abandoning them. The people of Budi County are dismayed by lack government’s presence and at the most difficult times such as this killing rampage by Toposa armed men. All the state and national members of parliaments had gone mute on this matter.
The people of BUDI County would like to tell the World and the government of South Sudan that we lack effective leadership in our state. We felt neglected and left to endure all kinds of human sufferings without anyone to turn to for assistance. We need a strong leadership in our state.
We need County and State officials to overcome their past and present tribal tendencies that are detrimental to peaceful coexistence between the two communities (Toposa and Didinga of Eastern Equatoria).
There are two issues that need immediate resolution in order to maintain safety and security for the people of Budi County:
1. Immediate action must be taken by the Government to ensure the Toposa do not repeat these atrocities to the Didinga people. All people must be treated as equal and with equal rights to the right to life, as ensured by the UN Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
2. As the country moves into a new governance mode, and with the new Counties and States, it is imperative that all Chiefs, MPS, Deputy-and Governors receive in-depth training on their responsibilities and duties. This is critical not only with regard to the academic governance training, but also how to build cohesive communities between and amongst the different tribes.
For instance, in order to properly represent both Didinga and Toposa tribes, the Governor (Toposa) and Deputy-Governor (Didingac) must be trained to work side-by-side to ensure equality of representation and solving of problems. A clearly defined complaint process and steps to resolution must be established for all members of the State. Everyone must be educated about these rules and responsibilities.
As another example, as Didinga, we understand the Toposa concerns regarding the grazing lands, but believe that with good stewardship and the will to coexist, a better solution can be found than killing one tribe of people (annihilation). With independent facilitation, a traditional gathering (ganon) could be used to heal the tragedy and find viable, work solutions.
Statement written by BUDI the communities in the Diaspora, USA and Canada
Copy of this statement is forwarded to the office of:
H.E. Salva Kiir mayardit, the President of South Sudan,
H.E. Dr. Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon, 1st VP of South Sudan,
United Nations Mission in South Sudan
Mr. Daniel Naroi, Budi County Commissioner
Mr. Jervasio Amotun Lomwa, BUDI County Judge
Budi County Chiefs