WHO IS INCHARGE OF ALLIEN REGISTRATIONS?
Many at times I have been privileged to talk to people in both the government and civilian population regarding the registration and subsequent crackdown on illegal aliens.
In these forums I come across myriad reactions, of course some foreigners have complained of harassments and intimidation by unknown cartel targeting foreign owned businesses.
On the flipside I have personally spoken to the National Police Service Spokesperson Major General Daniel Justine who has on many occasions told me that there is not order to arrest or intimidate any foreigner on grounds of not having legal stay documents.
My friend Major Gen Justin instead says, the security apparatus have been urged to be very diplomatic and candid in handling the issue of alien registrations.
Previously I saw several businesses closed and whenever I sought answers about the closure, I was told that the foreigners feared for their businesses.
I was told that in most cases those spearheading the operation would demand even work permits from businesses selling chapatti or even charcoal.
Apparently some of these people are small scale business people who literally live from hand to mouth and hardly have any savings even to send back home to their dependants.
Unfortunately, the otherwise well intended exercise seems to have been hijacked by some criminals who take advantage of the situation to unleash terror and threaten gullible foreigners.
This cartel monitors movements of certain individuals and prey on them, in most cases even robbing unsuspecting victims of valuables.
It nags me to see shops closed yet the same business people are expected to pay tax or rates to the local governments for service provisions.
Shocking is that in some cases, the cartel drives posh cars, they threaten you with arrest before stealing from you.
I am not advancing any theory here that all foreigners are clean and therefore innocent and legally in South Sudan. Indeed being a career journalist, I really understand and obey every single line of the law and in spirit and letter.
My point is that nobody has the right to stay in one’s country illegally and when you decide to stay anywhere, you are bound by the laws governing that country.
I firmly agree with Maj Gen Daniel that the exercise is well intended for security reasons and that every country has its own set laws that govern foreign citizens’ stay.
Last week I was a victim of a group, which claimed to be security personnel. They waylaid me as I came out of a supermarket and sought to engage me in a discussion regarding my business in South Sudan.
Being a journalist, I very much cooperated with them, obeyed their order and sat into their waiting car in Thongpiny area.
They sought to know how long I have been in Juba and where I work before they started searching my bag.
I simply told them that I am a career journalist who has worked in the country for several years and previously worked for the Southern Eye, Internews, BBC Media Action, consulted for Journalists for Human Rights and UNICEF previously.
I handed them over my recorder and my job card and to their disappointment they started being easy.
Apparently only one introduced himself after producing his job card indicating he works for the CID, department of Economic Crimes.
I started wondering what I could be doing with people monitoring economic crimes before one asked me whether a vehicle, parked in front of us was mine.
To their amusement I responded, “It is not mine but thanks for your prayer, maybe one day or even soon, I will own a vehicle”.
Memories of a similar story from a friend returned to haunt me.
My friend told me he spent a whopping $700 to secure his freedom when he literally panicked and raised an alarm bell when he shouldn’t have.
He does menial jobs around and did not have to lose that hard earned money to unknown people.
Another friend who is also a mechanic also parted with 10,000SSP because he didn’t have the alien registration which costs 3,000SSP.
I discovered that human beings learn the hard way; at times we brew trouble for ourselves and blame others later.
In my encounter, the boys also verified all my documents and confirmed that indeed a journalist should live by example; all my documents were in order.
One simply said, Ya jama de sokol sakit, (This is useless operation). They didn’t know I understood some basic Arabioc before the other responded, Sibu zol de, nas alsahafin maindu grush (Leave that guy, journalists do not have money) then another one said, Mr journalist you are free to go now, you are a good man.
I walked into my freedom but with lessons learned.
- Always have your documents on you.
- The documents must be updated and legal.
- Always cooperate and don’t panic in case you are approached.
- You have the right to ask anyone to identify himself too once you have identified yourself.
- Do not walk with a lot of money or else you expose yourself to a lot of risks.
It is really important to ensure everyone involved in such screening and crackdown identifies himself failure of which the exercise will be infiltrated by criminals who extort money from unsuspecting members of the public.
In some cases some groups arrest foreigners in vehicles without any registration umber plates and worse still they do not even identify themselves instead they documents including receipts for owning laptops and phones failure of which one parts with heavy and un receipted amount of money.
Finally, my friend from the Kenyan Embassy in Juba Mr Mambo once taught me about the Rule of the Thumb.
According to Mr Mambo, “The Rule of the Thumb dictates that when you live in someone’s land, obey the laws of that territory”.
It simply means that you play by the rules of your hosts because you expect them to do the same when you play host.
My message to fellow foreigners, it is cheap to have the documents than bribe your way out when nabbed.
Separately, authorities in charge of this operation should be very clear to ensure no gangs or cartels take advantage of the situation to rob, molest or intimidate anyone for failing to have any document.