Fears for safety of South Sudan reporters as security forces hunt video source


SOUTH SUDAN: Reports reaching us reveal that journalists who covered the state event in South Sudan where president Salva Kiir Mayardit wet his pants during a national anthem recitation have gone missing.

Some unverified reports also allege that some reporters have been found dead.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit in a 39-second video clip appeared to be wetting on himself in front of cameras while the country’s national anthem was being played. This was during the opening ceremony of the first phase of the Juba-Bahr el Ghazal highway early this week.

A journalist working for the state-run television SSBC told our reporters on Thursday that security forces were conducting search to identify the allegedly perpetrator, and were being asked by security operatives attached to the office of the president to help identify him.

“Some of our colleagues from the SSBC were being forced to help identify the wrongdoer and this is immediately after the video was made public. Even they searched our phones and it appeared that they are still looking for him,” the SSBC journalist who refused to be named said.

The journalist said he has “heard that three of the journalists based in Juba have disappeared” but cannot authenticate as to if what is up to now a rumor is true or is linked to the National Security Service (NSS).

Meanwhile journalists working in South Sudan have said that the continued circulation of rumors is causing fears among them, something they say may negatively affect the way they perform their duties.

“I think there are laws in place guiding our work and the alleged involvement of the national security service and the purported arrest of our colleagues is causing fears among our work and this will affect the way we do our work. Any wrongdoing should be dealt with by the law, not by individuals in the security sector,” one journalist told zwnews.com .

Another journalist also reminded the government of its primary responsibility to protect citizens and journalists in particular and called on the presidency “and human rights bodies to take responsibility in protecting the journalists who are currently at risks.”

Another journalist said he cannot rule out if any of his colleagues has been arrested, but said he is investigating if there has been any arrest since the video of the president went public and described the situation of journalists in South Sudan as “unpredictable and dangerous.”