Incident with Police at Bakheita Radio

They came in full riot gear and handcuffs, entering without specified reason through a gap in the fence and attacking a female member of staff.

Bakhita Radio, Monday December 7, 2009; 1:30 pm

At noon today, a group of about 20 presumed Central Equatoria State South Sudan Police Service personnel stormed in the premises of Bakhita Radio and beat one of the staff. 

They came in full riot gear and handcuffs, entering without specified reason through a gap in the fence and attacking a female member of staff.  The gate was locked.

The shouts from the attack alerted the rest of the Directress and staff who were inside the building and run outside to try to rescue their colleague. 

At least five men kicked, punched, and severely beat the young woman with short and long sticks for several minutes.

When challenged, the unidentified group of police accused the woman of insulting them and called her names.  They violently pulled her from the ground and threatened to arrest her. 
As she was curled up on the ground crying and begging for help, other staff tried to intervene.
The police beat him heavily as he was trying to protect the young woman.

They also threatened to beat the directress and the rest of staff who spoke out in her defense. Against protests from the station management, they dragged the young woman roughly along the ground and pushed her into a ditch, where they threatened to cover her with soil. 

One of the policemen took a shovel from the garden and said to her as she lay covered in dirt, “this will be your graveyard.”

The directress was prevented from calling the Archbishop to report the incident.  At that point, the group of police was divided as to whether they should take the young woman or leave the compound.  After brief discussion and further threats to the administration and Bakhita staff, the group left, using the same hole through which they came. 

From the very beginning of this incident, the violent and psychological aspects of the attack left the young woman shouting and sobbing uncontrollably.

The whole incident lasted for about 15 minutes and rendered the young woman very emotional and deeply traumatized.  For more than an hour- and even after the police had left- the young woman was hyperventilating and unable to talk coherently.  As we write this report, she is still unable to control her panic.

The rest of the staff were equally affected by the attack, but Bakhita Radio maintained their broadcast throughout the incident and will continue to be on air for the people of Juba.

Sr Cecilia Sierra Salcido
Bakhita Radio
Archdiocese of Juba

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