South Sudan’s National Police Service detained a man this week for allegedly trying to sell two of his children at Juba’s Konyo Konyo market
. The man denies the charges, saying he was trying to find someone to adopt his children because he cannot afford to feed them.
The area is home to members of South Sudan’s Murle community.
Area leaders identified the man as Jackson Maker at a Tuesday news conference in Juba. They say Maker walked to the market and asked if anyone was willing to buy two boys, about four and eight years old.
Judy Jonglei Boyoris, a national assembly lawmaker lawmaker, told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus program that authorities were called immediately.
“There was somebody from Dinka Bor (tribe) … He was asking for the market to sell out his two children. People told him to sit down and they called national security and he was captured,” Boyoris told VOA.
Maker said he intended to return the children to his wife’s family.
“The reason I took them from home was that I wanted to return them to their maternal uncles. I have been staying with them for eight years and it has appeared from my in-laws that I had stolen these children. So, I decided to return the children to their uncles. But when I failed to find any one of them here in Juba and there is no money for me to go back to Kapoeta, I decided to look for someone who can take them and give me something to survive,” Maker told South Sudan in Focus.
His brother Nhial Thon Nhial said Maker was inebriated Sunday morning when Maker left the house the two share.
“He drank alcohol and disturbed me, saying he wants to take his children to Kapoeta because the mother of these children is in Kapoeta. So in that morning he took the children and told me he was going to the bus station to find buses going to Torit and Kapoeta,” Nhial said.
Nhial said he learned two days later his brother never arrived in Kapoeta and instead wound up in a police cell in Juba. Nhial told South Sudan in Focus his brother has been mentally ill “for some time” and that is why Maker and his children live with him.
“The elder wife is being taken care of by the younger brother,” said Nhial.
Human rights lawyer Biel Boutros Biel criticized Maker’s alleged effort to sell his children.
“Selling a human being is something unacceptable. It is wrong. It is against human dignity; it is against right to life. While we condemn the act, we need to go deeper to look into the realities [of] why a parent has reached that part of selling the children. This is something that can give us thinking on what is going on in the country,” Biel told South Sudan in Focus.
The police will care for the children while the incident is under investigation, according to National Police spokesperson Major General Daniel Justin.
“These children will now be with us. We have a special protection unit which will take care of these children and when there is a need for counseling, we have social workers from the Ministry of Gender and Social Welfare to take care of them in areas of trauma and counseling,” Justin told South Sudan in Focus.
In the past, the Murle and Dinka Bor communities have accused the other of abducting and selling each other’s children.