Torit, Lafon commissioners bicker as woman is gunned down

A 19-year-old woman was on Sunday shot dead while picking gathering coconuts in the Pacidi area of Lafon County in Eastern Equatoria State.

A 19-year-old woman was on Sunday shot dead while picking gathering coconuts in the Pacidi area of Lafon County in Eastern Equatoria State.

Aka John Kut was the only one killed out of 10 women who had gone to the bush to pick coconuts which are used as a dietary supplement during lean times.

Lafon County Commissioner Megisto Ukach however told Radio Tamazuj Monday that the murder was carried out by a well-known criminal from Ohiri village in Torit County’s Bur Payam. He said the suspect has earlier stolen goats and sheep from the same area.

“On 29 March, the very suspect stole 77 goats and sheep and on Sunday he returned for the same purpose of stealing. These innocent girls, they were 10, went to a place called Kolongi to collect coconut fruits but they were attacked leaving one dead,” he said. “The girl who died is called Aka John Kuta, 19, and the incident took place at around 10 am on Sunday. The other 9 girls were not injured.”

Commissioner Ukach said he was working with his Torit County counterpart to have the assailant and his criminal posse apprehended.

“I am calling my counterpart because that place where the suspect comes from is in the jurisdiction of Torit County,” he said. “The suspect has been identified by name and we have information about his whereabouts and the local authorities in Torit County even know him.”

Meanwhile, Torit County Commissioner Jacob Atari Albano confirmed the killing but attributed it to cyclic revenge killings and faults the Lafon County authorities for not checking insecurity among neighboring communities of the two counties.

“It is something that happened there (Lafon) and goats raided from Ohiri towards near Pacidi. The owner of the goats tracked them to Pacidi so the Ohiri people also went and took some goats. So, criminals from both (communities) are raiding each other’s goats,” he said. “Unfortunately there was this incident which both of us are condemning. I heard that there were some women shot from that side of Lafon County and then there were also 3 people shot from this side of Ohiri (Torit County) where some criminal from Pacidi came and killed one person and injured 3 people seriously.”

Atari blames the Lafon County commissioner for being uncooperative and not arresting criminals.

“My Lafon County counterpart is not cooperating like the way I cooperate as Torit County commissioner. That community is not cooperating to arrest the criminals or even coming to resolve matters,” he said. “Both of us (commissioners) have to come together so that we will be able to resolve the matters. Now, you are talking about the shooting of the woman, how about the 2 people who are killed from Ohiri, who will arrest the people who killed them?”

On her part, Angelina Quintino, an SPLM-IO nominated lawmaker in the Eastern Equatoria State Legislative Assembly, condemned the cyclic attacks and urged the neighboring communities to cease hostilities.

“The incident that happened is not good because when such issues occur, there will be revenge. I am suspecting it is the raiding of goats and cattle that is causing all the revenge killings,” she said. “When such incidents happened in your county, you should apprehend the culprits and hand them over to the government. Local authorities should not support criminals in their communities. We want all our citizens to live in peace.”

In 2018, fighting erupted between Pari of Lafon County and Ohiri Village of Torit County during a peace conference, leaving 19 people dead including a chief.