News / Africa

Running from 'Tigers' in South Sudan

SPLA soldiers stand in a vehicle in Juba, December 20, 2013.
SPLA soldiers stand in a vehicle in Juba, December 20, 2013.
John Tanza

Henry Lugale has spent the week since he got to Nairobi thinking about the nightmare that life has become back in Juba.

"There were people suffering. South Sudan is not good," he told South Sudan in Focus.

Before the conflict started in December, Lugale was a businessman, running a popular store in Juba’s Tomping neighborhood. When violence erupted on Dec. 15, things got so bad that Lugale practically lost the roof over his head.

“Because our home was near the home of the president –  these people come and they ruin all the things in the store," he said.

"And I have some solar (panels) on the top. They removed the solars and even they took my car. Soldiers. Tiger soldiers,” he said.

Tiger soldiers

By "tiger soldiers" Lugale meant members of President Salva Kiir’s presidential guard, also called the Tiger Division. Lugale said the same soldiers man some of the checkpoints that are dotted around Juba. They used to stop him several times a day, asking him each time to get out of his car and often confiscating his belongings or demanding money, he said.

South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei said checkpoints are normal in times of trouble, and speculated that Lugale had resisted security officials who were merely doing their job.

"Anybody who decides to be intransigent, anybody who wants to go against the law, anybody who wants to take the law into his own hands, these are the people who must be handled. And if he happened to be one of those intransigent ones, then, definitely, he could have an encounter with the checkpoint," Makuei said.

Ethnic differences

Lugale insisted he was doing nothing wrong. He said the soldiers at the checkpoints harass people like him – because he is not from the same ethnic group as they are.

One time, he says, when he was on his way to pick up some items on a list for his shop, he was stopped at a checkpoint.

“'Where are you going to?'" he recalled the soldiers asking him.

"I say, 'I’m going to Torit.' 'Where are you from?' I say, 'I’m from town.' 'So which tribe are you?' I say,'I’m Baria.' 'So why are you going to Torit if you’re Baria?'"

Then, Lugale said the soldiers told him they were going to arrest him. When he asked them why, he said they told him it was because of his shopping list, which they said was a list of people's names. They also said they were taking his iPhone, which had pictures on it of the January 2011 referendum, in which South Sudanese voted overwhelmingly for independence from Sudan.

Makuei expressed surprise when he was told the story of the referendum pictures, but said Lugale probably had something else on his phone.

“How can you be prevented from carrying pictures of people who are celebrating the referendum?" he asked.

"This cannot be accepted by a sober mind. He must have been carrying other pictures which he knows. Otherwise, nobody will ever stop me from carrying pictures of my celebration," the minister said.

Tired of being harassed

Lugale insisted that his version of the story was true. He said he eventually fled Juba because he got tired of being stopped, harassed, and having to pay kickbacks or hand over his belongings to soldiers at checkpoints.

“Ah – you cannot be free, because there are so many checkpoints in the town. There are soldiers there -- operations soldiers. They are there, they are checking the cars," he said.

John Tanza speaks to businessman Henry Lugale, who fled South Sudan
John Tanza speaks to businessman Henry Lugale, who fled South Sudan i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

 

Karin Zeitvogel contributed to this report from Washington

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: buckz makir from: juba
July 26, 2014 3:46 AM
V O A. AS USUAL SUPPORTING AND SPREADING LIES AGAINST THE GOVT OF SOUTH SUDAN,THIS PAGE IS REALY TURNING INTO REBEL PAGE ,

NOTE, STICK TO PURE PRESS ETHICS ,PLEASE , WE KNOW AMERICA IS SUPPORTING NUER REBELION BUT THAT DOSE NOT MAKE YOU GUY IN VOA A SOUTHNERS AND TALK ABOUT INTERNAL BIZ
In Response

by: Moderator
July 30, 2014 2:33 PM
At VOA, we strive always to give both sides of every story, including this one, for which we spoke with not only Mr. Lugale but also with Mr. Michael Makuei, the Information Minister.

by: Koug Wad Titoung from: Cairo
July 24, 2014 1:06 PM
Really we felling sorry about what is going into south Sudan by this way we are going to disdoryed our country because by one tribe south Sudan will not be able to people's lives. benefit really we are tribes in home one tribe must think twice about our people's lives or one days we can't find what we need on our way life's so south Sudan going to disdoryed by who calling themselves leader but they're tribezim leaders and they're care about his tribe not all South Sudan people's.

by: Ngomjaang from: Africa
July 23, 2014 4:23 PM
I definitely agree with what Lugale say , the so called Retarded A kiir with his Husband M7 of are the one messing our new nation up..

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More