KUACJOK - A special court that was set up in South Sudan's Warrap state to settle a deadly five-month-old conflict between two local communities will compensate families of victims of the violence with cattle, an official said Monday.
Seventy-eight people have been killed since fighting broke out between the Aguok and Apuk communities in April. At the heart of the clashes is a small river that borders Gogrial West County, where the Aguok live, and Gogrial East, which is home to the Apuk. Both communities claim ownership of the river and say they have exclusive rights to fish there.
The special court, which is based in Gogrial East County and is made up of five traditional judges, one state judge and two attorneys, will not only try those suspected of perpetrating the violence but will also oversee the exchange of cattle, which will compensate those who have lost someone to the fighting.
Under Wanhalel traditional law, which both communities follow, a person's life is valued at 31 head of cattle.
"We have 39 people killed from Apuk area and 39 people killed from Aguok area," meaning 2,418 head of cattle are needed as compensation, state information minister Paul Dhel Gum said.
Gum said the state government has formed a committee to help screen the cattle, make sure they were collected legally, and document the livestock exchanges.
The special court began deliberations last week. A force comprised of army soldiers and other security forces has been deployed to prevent skirmishes between the Aguok and Apuk while the court goes about its business.