Court in South Sudan Adjourns Judgement on Case of Missionary Nun Murdered in 2016

Late Sr. Veronica Rackova. Credit: CRN

A High Court in South Sudan’s capital city, Juba, has adjourned to November 14 the final verdict on the murder of Sr. Veronika Rackova that had previously been scheduled for October 24.

Sr. Veronika, a native of Slovakia, pioneered the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS) mission in South Sudan’s Yei Diocese since 2010. She died at Kenya’s Nairobi Hospital on 20 May 2016 after she was attacked and shot several times by a group of soldiers in the South Sudanese Catholic Diocese. 

Speaking to journalists after the adjournment of the case in Juba on Tuesday, October 24, James Paulino Ladu, an Advocate for the Prosecution representing the Catholic Diocese of Yei said that the court adjourned the case due to the absence of the accused in court.

Mr. Ladu explained, “Today the session was supposed to be the pronouncement of the judgment, but unfortunately, the legal administration of the National Security Service is too busy as the personnel assigned to bring the accused to the court have been given an assignment by the salary committee to issue salary in Bahr El Ghazal for 14 days. That is why the session is adjourned today.”

“Today the judge has put another session to be on November 14 for the final decision of the court,” he added. 


He weighed in on the adjournment of the protracted case, saying, “It is a very bad procedure for me because the case cannot take two years to be finalized because this case was brought in Juba in 2021.”

“My special message to all believers and to the family of the late Sr. Veronika Rackova is for them to be patient because this is the procedure of justice. I want to tell and assure the family of the deceased that justice will prevail,” Mr. Ladu further said.

On his part, the Local Ordinary of Yei Diocese, Bishop Alex Lodiong Sakor Eyobo said, “We are sorry for what has happened in this particular case, the last date when the judge is supposed to make the ruling.” 

“Let’s all be patient and wait for November 14, and see what will happen,” Bishop Lodiong added.

Meanwhile, SSpS Regional Councilor and Treasurer, Sr. Sheeba Mathew, who came from Ethiopia to attend the final verdict in Juba expressed her disappointment with the decision to adjourn the judgment. 

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“I am disappointed, but in some cases, we cannot change some situations; we accept it with faith as Church personnel and we wait patiently,” Sr. Sheeba said.

She added, “I came from Ethiopia today to hear the last verdict and we wish we could hear it but unfortunately, some other things occurred. What was supposed to happen did not happen and we wait patiently to hear what the last verdict is.” 

The first court hearing for the late Sr. Veronika started on 10 January 22 at South Sudan’s High Court in Juba; it was presided over by Judge Sumeiya Salah.

For the second court hearing, a 26 January 2022 CRN report indicated that “the mobility to bring the alleged perpetrators from Yei was not done on time, which made it unsuccessful for the suspects to appear before the court.”

Sr. Veronika reportedly succumbed to gunshot wounds on her hip and abdomen that she suffered when the St. Bakhita Health Center Ambulance she was driving came under attack from armed soldiers.


The Slovak SSpS medical doctor with specialization in tropical diseases was returning to the Convent after having taken a patient to Harvest Hospital in Yei when the 15 May 2016 midnight attack happened.

After undergoing two surgeries at the Hospital for Women and Children in Yei, Sr. Veronika, who was 58 at the time, was airlifted to Nairobi the following day for specialized treatment.

Three suspected Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) Soldiers were reportedly arrested in connection with the attack on the missionary Nun.

In South Sudan, Sr. Veronika had “served in various capacities as SSpS community leader, medical doctor and Director of St Bakhita Health Center, Yei,” a 25 May 2016 report by the SSpS Communication Office indicates.

“Sr. Veronika was a committed, generous and joyful missionary,” the Communication team of SSpS leadership reported, adding, “Her death is an irreparable loss for us, for her family and for the people she served especially in Yei.”

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“It is our hope and prayer that the self-giving of Sr. Veronika will herald a new beginning for peace and reconciliation in South Sudan,” SSpS leadership implored.

Her remains were flown from Nairobi to South Sudan’s Yei Diocese on 27 May 2016 where she was laid to rest.

At the fifth death anniversary of Sr. Veronika, in May 2021, the then Local Ordinary of Yei Diocese thanked the lawyers involved in the case for “trying their best” to trace witnesses.

“We are happy with lawyers who are trying their best (in) our civil court here in Yei to see where the witnesses may be and those others who might have pointed the gun at Sister, to the point of even killing her,” Bishop Erkolano Lodu Tombe said on 20 May 2021.

Bishop Tombe added, “We are in touch with the lawyers who are following the case. It will take long as you know legal issues take many years, but we hope it will not be so long unless it is politicized.”

The South Sudanese Catholic Bishop underscored the need for justice, saying the Church “cannot allow injustice to continue to destroy the world and so the case of Sister Veronika which is ongoing, is going too long but legal procedures are like that and we are to follow it until we get justice before the court.” 

At the sixth death anniversary of Sr. Veronika, a SSpS member serving in South Sudan urged authorities in the country to work toward delivering justice for her murdered Sister.

“We continue to pray for justice for Sister Veronika … We are still waiting for whatever decision the government will take on the murder of the Sister,” Sr. Beni Gilda said on 16 May 2022, and added, “I ask all of us here in Yei to be courageous despite the situation.”

Kerbino Kuel Deng is a South Sudanese journalist who is passionate about Church communication. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.