Three underage initiates have been reported dead in the Eastern Cape, just a week after the launch of the 2018 winter season traditional initiation.
Cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) provincial spokesman Mankeli Ngam and OR Tambo district initiation forum chairman Nkosi Mkhanyiseli Dudumayo said two dead initiates were 15 and the other was 22.
They died in villages around Libode in Nyandeni.
A furious Dudumayo said they would have an urgent meeting with police who are trained as police traditional coordinators to ensure speedy arrest of all those involved in the deaths.
“We are shocked that we already have deaths and angered that all those who died were illegally circumcised.
“Not a single rule was followed. We demand speedy arrest of the bogus traditional surgeons who circumcised these boys.
“The law says only those 18 and older can be circumcised,’’ said Dudumayo.
An unconfirmed number of underage initiates had been taken to rescue centres, he added.
Dudumayo, who is also Contralesa provincial secretary, called upon parents, guardians and traditional leaders to be vigilant and be in the forefront on fighting illegal circumcision and torture of initiates.
“These are their sons and future leaders of their communities.’’
Ngam identified those who died as:
- Mlondolozi Falenti, 15, of Maqhingeni at Dalagubha near Libode, who collapsed and died on Wednesday;
- Sinentlanta Madolwana, 22, from Nyandeni at Chotyeni near Libode, who reportedly complained of chest pains;
- Abongile Ntanjana, 15, of Libode, who started shivering before he died.
Cogta MEC Fikile Xasa sent his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.
In other news, Ngam said three bogus traditional surgeons were arrested in East London, Tsolo and Port St Johns for performing illegal circumcisions.
They have already appeared in court. All were remanded in custody until their next court dates. They are:
- Ayanda Ndamase, 27, in Beacon Bay;
- Sinenjongo Jumba, 18, in Port St Johns, who illegally circumcising five boys who are under 13; and
- A 27-year-old man was arrested in Tsolo.
“We commend the work of the SAPS for effecting the arrests to send a clear message that illegal initiation schools will not be tolerated.
“We also wish to call on parents to report any cases of illegal initiation of their children.
“The illegal circumcision of under-age boys is against the Customary Initiation Practice Act and must be defeated by all key stakeholders.
“Equally, traditional leaders must work hard to close illegal amabhuma (initiation schools) in their areas,’’ said Ngam.