Eighth Initiation School Student Dies [from Circumcision] in Northern Province

News  African Eye News Service (Nelspruit). Thursday, 12 July 2001.

Dumisane Lubisi

Another initiation school student died in the Northern Province on Wednesday, bringing to eight the number of deaths at such schools in the province this winter.

Six of the reported deaths occurred in the province's Lowveld area while two took place in the Far North.

On Wednesday, Reginald Kubhayi, 14, died upon arrival at Letaba Hospital in Tzaneen after being circumcised at an initiation school in Nyakelani and complaining of stomach pains.

This is the second incident in the same school within a week. Promise Mkhawane, 15, died there last Friday, also after complaining of stomach pains.

According to post mortems conducted on Mkhawane and four other boys who died in the Lowveld Area, they succumbed to pneumonia, said police spokesman Inspector Moatshe Ngoepe.

The boys were aged between 13 and 17 and attended initiation schools in Nabane village in Maake near Tzaneen, Shigalo village near Malamulele, Mokgolobatho village near Ritavi and Boshakge village, near Tzaneen.

The number of deaths at the circumcision schools has alarmed provincial health officials who have urged circumcision school owners to work closely with hospitals and local clinics. The health department has offered to give antiseptics, disinfectants and relevant medication to the schools.

Gauteng's health department is helping the North-West health department investigate the deaths of two initiates in North-West on Sunday.

Both youths died at Jubilee hospital in Hammanskraal, from an allegedly botched traditional circumcision. So far, 12 initiation school deaths have been reported in North-West, while no deaths have reported in Gauteng.

Thousands of boys attend initiation schools each winter where they are circumcised with a sharp instrument as part of their passage into manhood. - African Eye News Service

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