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Harassment continues

A Traffic police officer inspects a vehicle in Juba - File Photo

Despite repeated calls by President Salva Kiir on organized forces to stop harassing motorists on the road, some continue to intimidate drivers.

Since 2011, security in South Sudan, and particularly in Juba has been controlled by members of the joint operation.

The constitution places the obligation of public security in the hands of ordinary police, which include traffic police units.

But there have been several cases of harassment, physical assault and arbitrary arrests attributed to members of the organized forces even in Juba, the capital city.

Of recent, motorists and pedestrians have complained of rampant harassment and extortion by some traffic police officers, and members of the joint operations.

Officers have been accused of using intimidation tactics such as confiscating vehicle number-plates, log-books, including demanding for cash receipts of laptops, phones, and fire extinguishers – all in the name of extorting money.

On Wednesday, a motorist told Eye Radio that he was stopped by a traffic officer along airport road, and asked him to produce vehicle documents.

After noticing that the documents were valid, including the expiry date of a fire extinguisher, the officer demanded for the receipt of the fire extinguisher.

An argument ensued between the passengers and the officer, as the policeman insisted that the driver step out of the car, if he could not provide the receipt.

The officer could be heard saying that no one is allowed to drive without the receipt of the fire extinguisher.

Two weeks ago, President Salva Kiir warned members of the organized forces against extorting money from the public.

But the driver who had encounter with the police officer near Beijing Hotel in Juba says the President’s warning seems to have not reached this traffic policeman.

He told Eye Radio that, upon noticing that the officer had no justification to delay him, he decided to move on without the car documents.

The driver presented the audio recording of the incident to Eye Radio.

And this is how it transpired:

In the midst of the argument, another traffic police officer intervened and asked his colleague to allow the vehicle to move forward.

They instead ended up arguing.

The driver later left without any charges.

A similar incident also happened to a woman, who was driving to her workplace and was stopped by a traffic policemen who demanded that she get out of her car, and handover the car key.

She was told to handover her logbook and driving license, at 7 Day roundabout.

Despite producing all the relevant documents, the policemen continued to shout at her.

When she asked for her documents, an armed soldier who was standing by pointed a gun at her and demanded that she leave immediately or risk being shot.

Meanwhile, Eye Radio listeners have also shared their experiences.

Some of them say they have been harassed and intimidated by some traffic police with intentions of extorting money from them.

Two weeks ago, President Salva Kiir warned the police against squeezing out money from motorists.

He says those who take money from citizens illegally are contributing to corruption in the country.

President Kiir also called upon the police to report anyone who gives them bribes and they will be rewarded.

On Wednesday, Police Spokesperson Brigadier Daniel Justin said the public should report such incidents to the nearest police station.