South Sudan—The government of South Sudan has fined small-scale traders for closing shops in the wake of botched protests organized by civil society activists last week.
Several bossiness owners in KonyoKonyo market, Juba town, Jebel, and Muniki said, officials working with security officers and Military personnel from Juba city Council have been threatening to arrest them for failing to open their shops on August 30, 2021.
These officials accompanied by security personnel, military, and police, according to sources imposed financial fines ranging between ($375) to ($125) each.
“We were not allowed to talk. They just asked for the money and when you ask they say they are fines for failing to open and operate your shop on Monday,” a trader spoke.
According to another source, the collection of the money was to cover expenses incurred on the forces deployed on Monday.
“You know the government is broke to the core, even finding a fuel to put into an official car for official purpose requires a strategy to get funds for it. Soldiers too had to eat, and this was not budgeted. So the money must be found somewhere and collecting them from traders was one of the strategies to pay for these expenses and the Juba City council was given the responsibility to do that. Because of the envisioned resistance from traders, the soldiers were deployed for that purpose,” he explained.
Meanwhile, police denied the arrests but later explained that the deployment was to protect lives and properties.
The government was reacting to activities of a coalition of leaders of the civil society organization calling on President Salva Kiir and the First Vice President Riek Machar to step down.
The activists had planned nationwide protests, which the country’s authorities quickly subdued.
Tensions were high and government officials, including Kiir and members of his administration, were worried about the mass protests.