Twelfth boy dies after botched circumcision

News  IOL News. Friday, 30 June 2006.

Another initiate has died in the Eastern Cape, bringing to 12 the number of deaths since the start of the winter initiation season, the provincial health department announced on Friday.

Every day we lose a life. Every day there's a death, said spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo.

He said the latest death was of a 16-year-old boy at an unregistered, illegal initiation school in a rural area between Port St Johns and Lusikisiki.

Officials were on their way to the school to recover the body.

An initiate was found dead of starvation

Police wanted to arrest the traditional surgeon who ran the school. Kupelo said police and department officials rescued 130 boys from illegal schools in the mountainous Ntabankulu area of Pondoland on Thursday.

They also arrested six traditional surgeons and nurses.

Police were probing charges of murder, assault, and running illegal schools.

An initiate was found dead of starvation in the area earlier this week.

Some of the (Ntabankulu) initiates have been admitted to hospital and are being treated for malnutrition and pneumonia, because they were hidden in the mountains for three weeks, he said.

All but one of the 12 deaths had occurred in Pondoland.

Those deaths can only be attributed to the fact that the custom is poorly managed in that part of the province.

It's because the custom is not theirs (the amaMpondo): they borrowed it from other tribes.

Because of that, elders are not allowed to go to the mountain, because some of them have not been through the ceremony themselves.

As a result it's the younger generation handling the whole thing.

He said one of the surgeons already arrested in the area was a 24-year-old. Others had turned out to be members of other tribes who had been employed in Pondoland as domestic workers or cattle herders, and who now claimed to be surgeons.

Kupelo said police would be raiding a number of illegal initiation schools in the Pondoland area next week.

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