Our traditional system: vulnerable but effective
Chief Juoy Machar, chair of the town court
Question: why the chiefs are not using the COTAL building in Bentiu town?
Chief: in the first place, the minister for physical infrastructure in the previous government was reluctant and unwilling to allocate a piece of land to use to build the COTAL but the intervention of the former governor Taban Deng has facilitate land allocation for the COTAL. After completed construction of COTAL building, the ministry of local government turns it into a directorate for traditional authority.
Question: what will happen if a new building is constructed for the chiefs like town court?
Chief: if a new building is constructed for us, it will not be taken over again by the ministry of local government. We will seek written commitment from the state governor or his deputy to protect our properties.
Question: how many cases your court can settle every day?
Chief: we settle every day 13-14 different cases and around 200-300 people attending the courts.
Question: how many members are there in your court?
Chief: There are 18 chiefs who are members of the court. 2 out of the 18 are women. The composition of the court is like this Rubkona: 4 members, Guit: 4 members, Pariang: 2 members, Mayom: 2 members, Abiemnom: two members, Koch: 1 member, Mayendit: 1 member, Leer: 1 member, Panyijiar: 1 member
Question: What are the most cases brought to your court?
Chief: most of the cases brought to us for settlement are mostly cases related to women involvement like elopement, illegal pregnancies, adultery with some body’s wife, dowries payment and cow theft.
Question: who else help the chiefs do their job?
Chief: there are police guards who help keeps the order in the court and we have secretary who keeps records of the court
Question: do you have records of your cases and where do you keep them?
Chief: we do have some records but not all the cases are documented because we do not have an office and board to keep our files.
Question: how do you value your work?
Chief: we are the most important institution in the state in term of intensive work pressure, providing solutions social problems, keeping peace among the community members. We are working more than the government who have lot of money but do very little to people.