South Sudan court jails soldiers for aid workers rape, journalist murder

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South Sudanese soldiers wait for their verdict at the military court in Juba, South Sudan, on September 6, 2018. (AFP)
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The verdicts for South Sudanese soldiers are announced at the military court in Juba, South Sudan, on September 6, 2018. (AFP)
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South Sudanese soldiers wait for their verdict at the military court in Juba, South Sudan, on September 6, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2018
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South Sudan court jails soldiers for aid workers rape, journalist murder

  • Ten soldiers were found guilty for their role in an attack on a Juba hotel.
  • Five foreign aid workers were gang-raped, and a journalist was killed in the attack.

JUBA: A South Sudan military court on Thursday found 10 soldiers guilty for their role in an attack on a Juba hotel in which five foreign aid workers were gang-raped, and a journalist was killed.
"The military court has found out that the accused... are guilty for their direct responsibilities in committing these crimes," said Judge Knight Baryano Almas, detailing charges of rape, murder, looting and destruction.
One suspect was acquitted while another, a military commander accused of overseeing the chilling attack, died in prison last October in what the army said was a "natural death".
After 31 trial sessions, two soldiers were sentenced to life in prison for the murder of local journalist John Gatluak, as well as rape and other crimes.
The others received sentences ranging from seven to 14 years for charges including rape, sexual harassment and looting.
Violence erupted in South Sudan's capital when a peace deal between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar collapsed in July 2016.
During the clashes, government forces rampaged through the Terrain hotel compound housing some 50 employees of foreign organisations.
In his evidence at the start of the trial, the hotel's British owner, Mike Woodward, said that "50 to 100 armed soldiers" broke into the compound.
"One group proceeded straight to the bar and restaurant while another group continued to the residential area," he said.
Woodward listed "the gang rape of at least five international women", the murder of a South Sudanese journalist, the shooting of a US aid worker and "the beating and torture of almost every person in the entire building", including mock executions, among the crimes allegedly committed at his hotel.
Woodward's testimony is supported by reports compiled by the UN and Human Rights Watch.
During the attack the aid workers made multiple appeals for help to nearby UN peacekeepers, which went unanswered.
A special UN investigation found that a lack of leadership in the UN mission - which has 13,000 uniformed personnel in South Sudan - culminated in a "chaotic and ineffective response" during the July fighting.
The force's Kenyan commander was sacked.
The court on Thursday ruled that South Sudan's government must pay compensation of $4,000 (3,440 euros) to each rape victim, and over $2 million to Woodward for damage to his property.
Gatluak's family will be compensated with 51 head of cattle.
 


More than 60 dead in South Africa flooding after heavy rains

Updated 34 min 20 sec ago
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More than 60 dead in South Africa flooding after heavy rains

  • Rescue workers were digging through collapsed buildings on Wednesday
  • The rains mainly hit areas around the port city of Durban

DURBAN: At least 60 people have been killed and more than 1,000 have fled their homes after heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides along South Africa’s eastern coast, authorities said on Wednesday.
Most of the deaths were in KwaZulu-Natal province. Flooding also killed at least three people in neighboring Eastern Cape province, state broadcaster SABC said.
The rains mainly hit areas around the port city of Durban. Multiple dwellings collapsed in mudslides, said Robert McKenzie, a KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services spokesman.
Rescue workers were digging through collapsed buildings on Wednesday.
Victor da Silva, a resident of the coastal town of Amanzimtoti, said his family managed to evacuate before the floods destroyed their home and cars.
“On Monday, the water was just crazy. And yesterday morning I got here, everything was fine, my garage was still here, the other part of the house was still here, and it just couldn’t stop raining,” Da Silva said. “And then an hour and a half later, everything poof (vanished) because the rain just hasn’t stopped.
Authorities in southern Tanzania ordered evacuations of residents from low-lying areas and the closure of schools and offices ahead of landfall of Tropical Cyclone Kenneth on neighboring Mozambique’s coast on Thursday.
“We’ve decided to evacuate all residents of valleys and other low-lying areas and we advise them to seek refuge at public spaces,” Mtwara regional commissioner Gelasius Byakanwa, told reporters.
Johan Fourie said he fled his home in Amanzimtoti, Kwazulu-Natal, just before part of it collapsed.
“I nearly lost my life, and my neighbor, I believe, is in hospital,” Fourie told eNCA television.
The region had been hit by heavy rains for days, but authorities did not foresee the extent of the downpour late on Monday, said Lennox Mabaso, a spokesman for the provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department.
“As a result, there was flooding and some structures were undermined and collapsed on people,” Mabaso said.
Some people were swept away by the water, he added.
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited affected communities in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday and was expected in the Eastern Cape in the next few days.
“This is partly what climate change is about, that it just hits when we least expect it,” he said.
Last week, 13 people were killed during an Easter service in KwaZulu-Natal when a church wall collapsed after days of heavy rains and strong winds.