At the resumption of the Revolution United Front (RUF) defence trial yesterday at the Special Court, the fourth witness for Issa Sesay with code number DIS -074 has revealed what life was in the bush in 1991.
Lead in evidence by defence lawyer Sareta Ashraph, the 45-year- old farmer who testified in Mende disclosed that he was in a village in Kailahun when a gang of men led by one Rambo addressed them. “He told us that we as civilians should not be afraid and run away, but should go to the bush for protection while they remain in town”
Later he went on this group headed by Rambo were asked by Foday Sankoh to leave the District and they were driven away by members of the RUF.
During the stay of Rambo and the other rebels, the witness said they were not having a happy life as their wives were taken frequently away from them overnight and returned back in the morning.
The witness disclosed that their food was taken away from them. “It was because of these reasons that Foday Sankoh asked that the Rambo group should leave the district.”
Narrating further DIS-074 revealed that the rebels who took over from Rambo were in their mid twenties and early thirties and they were mainly comprised of Sierra Leoneans who had a good relationship with civilians.
The civilian’s representative was referred to as the G5 and they acted as intermediary between them and the RUF to settle disputes and to enforce the laws which were passed.
Among these laws was that no rebel should take the wife or food of a civilian and that they should not disturb the civilian and if any of them is caught they will be beaten to death.
Explaining further the witness said while they were with these other rebels, life was normal for them until they left the town together with the RUF for Gbaima where they were told by the RUF again to stay in the bush as they were told that the town was not safe.
He continued, “while we were in the bush we were even asked to choose a leader whom we referred to as Joe Bush Commander and this commander was appointed by us the civilian. This person was responsible to settle dispute among us and if there was no dispute then he should protect us. There was a Military Police called Mohamed Fatorma.”
During their stay in the bush, he narrated, the witness said he had is own farm and there was also a community farm where about 40 people cultivated food for strangers.
The idea of a community farm, the witness said, was instituted by the RUF and the village people themselves and that the arrangements were done by the G5 and those in the town.
The people working in the farm were given food and they worked in the farm only once or twice a month and if anyone of them was sick, they will ask for excuse which would be granted by the leader.
Asked whether he knew Issa Sesay, the witness said Issa was a commander and he only went to the bush to enquire about the welfare of the civilians.
The people who went with Issa were about his age and the youngest was about 25 years.
The civilians he said had a cordial relationship with Issa and that he was never told by other civilians what was done by him [Issa], the witness added.