Interviews, News

‘No gunshots in Juba’ on Christmas Eve -Residents

A view of Juba is seen from the Jebel Kujur. PHOTO//Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

Residents of different suburbs in Juba have expressed joy over the level of security during the festive season -especially during the eve of Christmas.

People from various locations within Juba testified -that for the first time in years, they didn’t hear random gunshots at night.

Sporadic gunfire is usually heard in Juba and other major towns on Christmas Eve, New Year and on national days like the Independence Day, or Martyrs Day.

Last week, the Minister of interior warned against random gunshots which he described as a norm among armed South Sudanese .

The army had earlier said many soldiers are still attached to the history of firing live bullets as signs of jubilations and such were witnessed during festive seasons and also during the liberation struggle.

Minister Chanjiek also warned against misconduct among security personnel like the police.

The intentions for the order was to ensure peaceful celebrations during festive season.

SPLA Chief of Defense Forces, James Ajong’a also issued similar orders to the army; banning shooting during Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

It was report last year that similar orders were violated when a group of soldiers fired bullets in the air.

They were arrested and charged in Bilpam.

They told the court that they acted under the influence of alcohol.

But this year, Minister Chanjiek and the Chief of the army promised harsh measures, including beatings and arrest for anyone who violates the order.

On Boxing Day, Eye Radio went to the streets to find out from residents of Juba on how effective the orders have been.

“I live in Gudele checkpoint, and it was a wonderful day, because there was no sound of gun. People went to church, and people were still moving from 11PM up to 1AM and beyond. We could hear people shouting in celebrations on the streets. It was indeed a very special day.”   

On Christmas day, residents reported citing police officers deployed on various streets in Juba.

Officers from the 777 mobile police riding brand new motorbikes with siren installed were seen in the residential areas.

They said officers in areas like Munuki were deployed especially in locations considered to be a haven for troublesome youths. The officers were seen helping victims of accidents by rushing them to the hospital on the same bikes.

Those who spoke to Eye Radio expressed joy that for the first time in years -they moved on foot through the night.

“In my area in Dar Salaam, we celebrated Christmas well, people are very happy. There was no gunshot, no insecurity, everything is okay.”

Another resident cited the recent signing of the cessation of hostilities by the warring factions as an act that reassured him of a possible ‘return of peace.’

Last week, the Transitional Government, the SPLM-IO under Riek Machar, the Former Detainees and other estrange groups agreed to cease hostilities.

The parties also gave orders to their forces to protect civilians and allow unhindered humanitarian access.

“This year’s celebration is the best more than any other year, because people are so excited. People are also happy about peace being discussed in Addis Ababa.”