Kenyan chef shot in South Sudan seeks help to remove bullet lodged in his leg
For Michael Ageng’o, the month of July 2016 will be the worst in his professional life as an expatriate seeking greener pastures abroad.
Instead of a fat bank account, the former chef in South Sudan was forced to flee home to Siaya County with only the clothes he had on his back as he nursed two bullets lodged in his legs.
The father of five had worked as a chef for close to 20 years, nine in South Sudan and the remaining 11 in Uganda after he decided to seek greener pastures due to lack of a job in Kenya.
In a recent interview at his home, Ageng’o recalled the ordeal and how he literally stared at death in the eye during the attack by rebel forces in the civil-strife torn neighbouring country after their vehicle was stopped at a road block and sprayed with bullets.
Not everyone was as lucky as he was during the military ambush by South Sudan rebel factions along the Juba-Uganda highway. Some were left with more serious injuries and their fate was not immediately known.
Over 300 men, women and children have since been killed and more than 42,000 others displaced following the violence that erupted between armed fighters allied to President Salva Kiir and his former First Vice President Riek Machar in a protracted bloody leadership wrangle.
In the interview at his home in Mrweyo village, Masiro Kathieno Sub-location in Siaya County, Ageng’o says he was among eight people who were shot by the rebels and survived by a whisker.
“We were traveling from Juba in vehicles bearing South Sudan number plates when it was shot at between Aruu junction and Amer area, which is about 190 Kilometres to Nimule, a border town between South Sudan and Uganda,” the chef recalls.
During the attack, all the passengers and driver were ordered to disembark, frisked in a move that saw their money and all other valuables stolen from them at gun point. Some passengers who tried to resist were seriously injured before the police came to their rescue many hours later.
The victims were taken for first aid and treatment in hospitals in Gulu and Kampala in Uganda. Looking back, Ageng’o thanks God for saving their lives and protecting them until they arrived in their respective homes.
According to Ageng’o, other road users on that route were not so lucky as reports received later revealed that there have been more bloody attacks which left several people either maimed or killed.
“Our car was in forefront and we could only hear gunshots without seeing the people who were shooting,” says Ageng’o.
“It was a miracle that we all survived the shooting and manhandling by our attackers,” says the chef adding that: “there were numerous roadblocks where people were being checked”.
Before starting the treacherous journey, everybody who was fleeing the country was ordered not to try to smuggle the local currency with them. By then, most of the commercial banks had closed so one could also not change the local currency as required by law.
During the interview at his Siaya home where he his wife and children were glad to receive him alive, Ageng’o told Reject that he sustained bullet wounds in both legs and was rushed to Mlago Hospital in Kampala, where he was given first-aid before being released to cross the border.
Narrating his ordeal with tears rolling down his cheeks, Ageng’o says they spent three days in the bush lying on the floor for fear of being shot at.
“We were staying in iron-sheet walled houses and it was very risky because the bullets could pass through,” he says.
Ageng’o who worked in one of the non-governmental organisations in Juba says: “I was sitting on the co-driver’s seat during the attack which saw both of my legs shot.
He notes: “It’s a miracle the bullet on the left leg passed through the bones and came out while the one that hit the right leg remained stuck and is still lodged in my leg.”
Despite all this, Ageng’o is glad to be safely back home with his wife and children and his only regret is that he lost all his personal property in the military ambush and is now unable to raise funds for surgery.
“I only managed to return home with the clothes I had on my back, and with the assistance of good Samaritans. I am now appealing to the Government to assist me to have the bullet removed from my body,” he says.
Ageng’o had heeded an appeal by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Kenyans living in South Sudan to allow for easy and orderly evacuation of those who wished to leave the country.
Dr Kevin Osuri, a Siaya-based surgeon who has been treating Ageng’o, says it is medically advisable that the bullet is removed because it could cause complications to his health.