Soldiers of South Sudan People’s Defense Forces

Ugandan traders have closed their food shops in Gumbo market, South Sudan to protest against the arbitrary killing of their business associates.

On Sunday, September 27, unknown gunmen waylaid three Ugandan traders en-route to Gumbo market and demanded a ransom of three million South Sudanese Pounds (about Shs 8.5 million) from each of them. Those kidnapped included Mayende Kamaadi, Ahmed Ssebagala and Peter Tusiime.

Mayende and Ssebagala were killed on Tuesday after the traders collected and sent about Shs 9.6 million as partial payment while Tusiime escaped on Wednesday night last week. Raymond Okot, one of the traders in Gumbo says Tusiime, who was driving and transporting tomatoes to Gumbo market from Uganda informed them that they were kidnapped along Nimule-Juba road near Nesitu bridge.

According to Okot, Tusiime who is undergoing treatment in Juba told them that Mayende was killed first and Ssebagala later after he was hit on the head with a hammer. Tusiime managed to escape while the kidnappers were carrying the bodies of his colleagues to dump in the bush.

Agnes Namuli, a bereaved trader implored Uganda and South Sudan governments to expedite the search for the two bodies so that they are accorded a befitting burial back home. She said; “We won’t open food shops in Gumbo market until the bodies of our colleagues are recovered.”

Meanwhile, Aisha Bako, another businesswoman says that several cargo trucks carrying merchandise from Uganda to South Sudan have parked in Elegu in a protest demanding for justice and their safety. According to the traders, four other traders were kidnapped on Thursday and their whereabouts remain unknown.

Maj Telesphor Turyamumanya, the UPDF 4th Division spokesman condemned the armed violence being meted against Ugandans in South Sudan which he attributed to criminal activities of rebel remnants. Daniel Justin Boula, the South Sudanese National Police Service said they are still carrying out investigation before making an official statement.

South Sudan is a key market for Uganda’s exports – accounting for $239.2 million in 2016, $299.3 million in 2017 and $355.9 million in 2018.

In 2011 South Sudan attained political independence, but it shortly plummeted into a series of civil wars which has made the security situation across the country volatile with plentiful of weapons in the hands of armed men who are without jobs and resort to criminality.

Several foreign nationals including aid workers have been killed in targeted attacks which makes South Sudan one of the most dangerous operating environments for foreigners in the world. More than 115 Incidents of violence, intimidation, arbitrary detention and kidnappings have been reported since 2013.