Death has befallen South Sudan overnight! Within a period of 48 hours, the country has lost up to 6 army generals, among others, to unconfirmed illnesses.
At the same time, the High-level Taskforce on COVID-19 Pandemic (HLTF) confirmed that the world’s nascent nation has lost one life to the coronavirus disease. This is the first death ever to be reported officially out of 231 cases so far.
Meanwhile, of the generals that coincidentally but separately passed away, it is confirmed that former Chief of Military Intelligence, Gen. Marial Nuor Jok, lost his life in Juba on Thursday, as reported without medical reference by Thon Chagai, a cousin to the deceased.
“General Marial got sick a week ago. He was suffering from his previous poison that happened in 2010. Then, yesterday, we discovered that he was not normal and decided to take him for test. In the morning (of Thursday), his condition was not getting ok, so we rushed him to Giada Military Hospital, where he passed away with a heart attack,” Chagai told Eye Radio.
As seen in the above-mentioned family report, the public is already thrown into confusion as to which condition the decorated general succumbed to. Was it the alleged poison of over 10 years, heart attack or the widely rumoured Covid-19 contagion?
South Sudan army has lost more generals to illnesses than to their 5-year war. Just two years ago, the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (PDF) army chief, Gen. James Ajongo Mawut, suddenly died a year after assuming the office from the controversial Gen. Paul Malong Awan, who is currently a rebel leader based in Nairobi.
In a surprising turn of events, Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, who is the Commander-in-Chief of SSPDF (formerly SPLA) and President of the Republic, sacked Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak, the late Gen. James Ajongo’s successor, barely on the eve of the mysterious deaths. Gen. Jok, himself, just lost his younger brother, a brigadier general, too. Brig. Gen. Majier Riak passed on Friday just as this story was published by Opera News.
Social Media is fired up with these and other questionable deaths of very highly placed citizens of South Sudan. Within the last 7 days alone, it is reported that up to nine high-ranking officials have passed on under dubious circumstances. Most of the deaths appear only as condolences on Social sites.
These include a professor, former supreme court judge, prominent chief from President Kiir’s village, army generals including another brigadier who died in Gulu, Uganda, and the head of military logistics directorate.
A month earlier, similar deaths occurred, including the immediate former Minister of Justice and two other major historical figures. All of the approximate age of 60 and above.
During this coronavirus lockdown, the government has asked whoever falls sick, of Covid-19 or not, to treat themselves at home due to lack of health facilities. This is confirmed by the late Gen. Marial’s relative as quoted above.
South Sudan, to date, has 4 ventilators and their hospitals are underequipped to the extent that patients die in surgery when a generator power is switched off.
In April, an attempt to strike a VIP medical evacuation deal with Kenya was futile. Most of these deaths occur hometrapped either in Juba or Khartoum without treatment.
In yet another incident, news first broke through citizen journalists of the death of Lieutenant General Liah Diu Deng and Brigadier General John Madeng Gatduel, the head of Logistics at the army headquarters in Bilpam. Gen. Diu died in Khartoum, Sudan at the same time Gen. Madeng passed away in Juba on Wednesday.
Deng Machar Tot, a senior member of the defunct SPLM-IO faction led by Vice President Taban Deng Gai, confirmed Gen. Liah Diu’s death.
“This is to confirm that Lt. Gen. Liah Diu Deng has passed on in Khartoum today Wednesday, May 13, 2020. I just spoken to Vice President, H.E Gen. Taban Deng Gai, and he informed me of the news,” Machar told South Sudan News Now from the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.
As most of these seemingly coincidentally serialised death occurrences are being reported as either heart attack, csncer, or now poison, a source from Giyada Military Hospital in Juba, who did not want to be identified since matters coronavirus are still an emotional secret in South Sudan, expressed his frustrations publically,
“Most medical workers here are not happy with the way the Government is handling the Covid-19 cases. How come they’re still talking about one case? We are Christians and don’t like working where matters concerning human life are being manipulated.”
However, the latest official communication from the HLTF on May 14, 2020, confirmed and maintained only one death case, which is also not disclosed, leaving public in whispers and frowns.
“The Honourable Minister informed the Taskforce that the Public Health Laboratory on Thursday 14th May 2020 released 214 test results. Of these, 28 cases, 27 South Sudanese and one Kenyan, were confirmed positive, including one death, while 186 tests were returned negative.” The statement, signed by Dr. Riek Machar, Deputy Chairman of HLTF and First Vice President of the Republic, reads in part.
It added that so far, South Sudan had tested 3,356 cases, 231 of which were confirmed positive, 3 recoveries and now one death, all in the age bracket of 6 and 60.
On Friday as more heartbreaking news keep coming in, such as the death of former Yei River State’s deputy governor, Yousta Baba Dima, President Kiir Mayardit was quoted as giving in to public pressure by disbanding his politicians-dominated Taskforce (HLTF), which he chairs, and replacing it with a technocrat team.
“We will step back as political leaders from the High-level Taskforce on COVID-19 and allow medical professionals to take charge, and we can step in from time to time when that is necessary,” President Salva Kiir Mayardit.