South Sudanese police have detained a cow and its owner after the hulking creature allegedly killed a 12-year-old boy, just days after a ram was sentenced to three years at a military camp for murder.
The bull was walking near a farm in the evening last week when it attacked the child, killing him instantly, police said. The animal had been pulling a plow in Lakes State, in the centre of the East African country.
“The bull is now under arrest at a police station in Rumbek Central County,” Major Elijah Mabor, a police spokesman, told local media. “The boy was taken to hospital for post-mortem and he was taken home for burial.”
The attack comes less than a month after a ram in the same state killed a 45-year-old woman. Adhieu Chaping was repeatedly struck in the ribs by the ram, Mabor said, later succumbing to her injuries.
Following that attack, the ram was swiftly captured and taken into custody.
"The owner is innocent [but] the ram is the one who perpetrated the crime so it deserves to be arrested," the spokesman said at the time. “Our role as police is to provide safety and separate fights.”
According to state law, any domestic animal that kills a person is automatically given as compensation to the victim’s family, meaning Chaping’s family will receive the ram once it has completed its three year sentence.
A local court also fined the ram’s owner, Duony Manyang Dhal, five cows, which must be surrendered to the victim’s family.
In parts of South Sudan, ravaged by war and armed conflict since 2013 - when president Salva Kiir accused his deputy, Riek Machar, of plotting against him - livestock is the preferred form of currency, used to buy homes and pay dowries and compensation for wrongdoing, including murder. In one of the world’s poorest countries, a single cow can cost hundreds of pounds.
“Cows are central to pastoralists communities and have a cultural and spiritual significance,” Adhieu Majok, a South Sudanese analyst, told The Independent. “Ownership is a representation of wealth.”
With rampant insecurity plaguing pockets of the world’s youngest country, cattle raiding has become a major problem, with thousands of cows stolen each year. Majok said that although data is patchy, the annual death toll from cattle raiding in South Sudan could run into the hundreds.
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