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Juba City - 20 May 2022

“I will sue Bor community leader for alleging I organized cattle raid’-Gov. Lobong

Gov. Lobong. (File photo)
Gov. Lobong. (File photo)

The governor of Eastern Equatoria state has threatened to drag a leader of the Bor community to court for defamation and alleging that he and his state government organized and facilitated armed youths to attack and raid cattle camps of pastoralists from Bor in Magwi County.

On 10 May, a deadly attack on a cattle camp in Mugali Payam in Magwi County left over 35 people dead, including children, women, and the elderly, 19 others injured and thousands of cattle stolen. 

Following the raid, the chairperson of the Bor community, Dr. Angok Gordon Kuol, penned a press release on 12 May in which he accused the Eastern Equatoria State government of organizing and facilitating the cattle raiders.

“…the numerous attacks are carried out by the youths organized and facilitated by the government of Eastern Equatoria State,” Dr. Angok charged in his press release.   

During an exclusive interview with Radio Tamazuj Wednesday, Governor Lobong rubbished the allegations.

“I want to respond to a press release written by the head of the Bor community that this cattle raiding was organized by the Eastern Equatoria government in the person of Governor Louis Lobong and the commissioner of Magwi,” he said. “This has made some of the people believe that it was true, especially those whose cattle were raided. This allegation has caused a lot of anger among our people here in Eastern Equatoria, including government officials.”

He added: “I want everybody to be calm and I would ask the leader of the Bor community to provide us with evidence. I want him to show this evidence to the government of South Sudan so that Louis Lobong, the commissioner, and government officials can be investigated and punished for their deeds.”

He said the allegation was documented and can cause a lot of problems because people will believe that “if any cattle are looted somewhere, they will think that it is Louis and the commissioner”.

“This can cause a lot of security concerns and spoil the name of the Eastern Equatoria State. The Bor community leader should prove these allegations or go to court so that we can be taken to the court. If he does not do this, our government will also seek other means to clear its reputation,” Governor Lobong said.  

On if he was going to seek legal redress, the governor replied in the affirmative.

“Yes. They need to answer this in court,” he said.

Lobong however said that the pastoralist from Bor agreed to leave the state and return home in a meeting attended by the country’s security chiefs in Nimule last weekend.

“We met with these people (herders) in Nimule and they have expressed their readiness to take their cattle back to Jonglei but they raised some concerns regarding the means of transportation means,” Lobong said. “They say their cattle cannot move on foot from Nimule to Jonglei and they requested the government to provide them with the trucks. Their leaders said they need around 100 trucks but they are facing difficulties in getting them.”

If he had seen a video trending on social media depicting Murle youth with the said looted cattle, he said it is true that the 10 May raid was carried out by Murle youths.

“This is no longer a secret, it is now well known to everyone that the Murle are the ones stealing cattle. When there is a looting incident somewhere, other looters will always use the opportunity as well,” he said. “When the Murle people heard that there were cattle being looted in Eastern Equatoria, they also came and looted cattle.”

He said the state is big and the local authorities cannot effectively police it.

“This state is wide. Some of the cattle raiders are even from my own state. They do not take the cattle on the main road but they take them through the bushes. The security is not on every tree in the bush and yet local citizens in that area have not reported,” Governor Lobong said.

Asked if he had been summoned by the president over the deadly raid, he said he had not received any communication on the matter.

“I have not received any letter from the office of the president. I also saw that on social media as you might have seen but nothing official was communicated. We are ready if such an invitation is confirmed,” he said.