Circumcision fast turning into a quick-buck chancers' racket

News  City Press (Johannesburg). Saturday, 23 November 2002.

Thozi ka Manyisana

RACKETEERING iingcibi (traditional surgeons) have been accused of corrupting the traditional rite by charging huge fees of up to R1 000 just for the cut.

Health department circumcision co-ordinator Zweliphakamile Dweba said at a provincial circumcision review in King William's Town that the rite was being turned into a business after it became evident that iingcibi, themselves circumcised as recently as June, saw the custom as a way to pocket a quick buck.

The review was attended by some 50 traditional nurses, surgeons and health department officials.

Dweba said the price of the previously cheap exercise had now sky-rocketed.

An ingcibi from Mount Ayliff, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that they charged between R850 and R1 000 a cut.

He said the custom had changed from the way it used to be carried out before.

In the good old days, he said, a traditional surgeon would not be the traditional nurse at the same time. But thanks to greed, that has changed as iingcibi are doing multi jobs because they want multi money.

The already expensive operation fee excluded all other expenses, like the goat or sheep to be slaughtered as part of the custom. Necessities like groceries have to be catered for by the initiate's parents.

An initiate must also fork out an additional R250 a month for attending a traditional circumcision school.

The surgeons have also been accused of keeping the circumcised youths as their prisoners until the families pay their grossly inflated bills.

Meanwhile, the provincial health department, already under pressure because of the high number of deaths and maimings resulting from botched circumcisions, has introduced a new stainless-steel blade to ensure the cuts are done hygienically.

The blade is supplied to traditional surgeons free of charge and is meant to be cleaned after each cut is done.

During the review, however, one health worker said he was reluctant to supply the department's alternative circumcision instruments to the surgeons in his region.

He said practitioners were doing brisk business and giving them free instruments would be fuelling the evil deed.

They are making money out of this.

He said problems with the traditional Xhosa custom were also caused by the sudden interest shown by other tribes like the AmaBhaca and AmaXesibe , who were not previously undergoing the rite. - ECN Weekend

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