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CityPress - - News - LUBABALO NGCUKANA lubabalo.ngcukana@city­press.co.za

r Lu­vuyo Bayeni (33) dreads the mid­dle of June. Not be­cause it’s cold or the days are short, but be­cause it’s the start of the win­ter ini­ti­a­tion sea­son. He has ded­i­cated his life to sav­ing the lives of the young vic­tims of botched cir­cum­ci­sions. For Bayeni – se­nior man­ager of cir­cum­ci­sion in the Eastern Cape since last year – pro­vid­ing pro­fes­sional and safe cir­cum­ci­sions is not just a job, it’s a call­ing.

He has been treat­ing boys in hos­pi­tals and res­cue cen­tres in Lusik­isiki, Mthatha, Qumbu, Mount Frere and East Lon­don since 2010.

“It’s painful to see some of the boys lose their man­hood dur­ing botched cir­cum­ci­sions. It’s a very trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence [for the boys],” he said.

“I wish our peo­ple, es­pe­cially par­ents and so­ci­ety at large, can take a keen in­ter­est in this mat­ter be­cause our young men are dy­ing in the bush for no rea­son.

“Par­ents need to take charge of the sit­u­a­tion and ed­u­cate their chil­dren about the dan­gers of illegal cir­cum­ci­sions. Young peo­ple, some only 13, are be­ing cir­cum­cised by peo­ple who have no train­ing to per­form such pro­ce­dures. This is bar­baric and so­ci­ety should not tol­er­ate such an un­nec­es­sary loss of life.”

Bayeni, whose job is to mon­i­tor and co­or­di­nate res­cue oper­a­tions, said he still got his hands dirty.

Last year, dur­ing the sum­mer ini­ti­a­tion sea­son, he had to work around the clock, hop­ping from one hos­pi­tal to the next, as staff were over­stretched and ur­gent in­ter­ven­tion was needed.

“Once, when I was at Mthatha Gen­eral for a sup­port visit, I had to get my hands dirty and work as there were too many ini­ti­ates need­ing at­ten­tion.

“Three days be­fore, I had been at Palmer­ton in Lusik­isiki work­ing in a res­cue cen­tre where ini­ti­ates were kept, treat­ing them. I had to do the same in other hos­pi­tals around the province,” he added. He said treat­ing ini­ti­ates needed spe­cial care and time. So­cial sup­port was also needed for boys af­fected by illegal cir­cum­ci­sions, es­pe­cially those who had their penises am­pu­tated be­cause of com­pli­ca­tions.

“We need to coun­sel these boys while they are in hos­pi­tals or at the cen­tres and con­tinue the sup­port be­yond the ini­ti­a­tion sea­son be­cause we end up los­ing them. Some are sui­ci­dal, oth­ers drop out of school and lose hope. They need the sup­port of so­ci­ety be­cause this is a so­ci­etal prob­lem,” said Bayeni.

He said one of his sad­dest mem­o­ries was of treat­ing four boys with gan­grene at Mthatha Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal in De­cem­ber. “As I rolled up my sleeves to at­tend to them, a shy, shaky voice asked me ‘Gqirha [doc­tor], will I be fine?’ and you know that your pro­fes­sional opin­ion is not what he wants to hear.”

The mar­ried fa­ther of three, among them two boys aged six and 11, said he wanted his sons to go through the sa­cred rite of pas­sage to man­hood, but in a proper

PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

BOYS TO MEN

A group of ini­ti­ates, cov­ered in red-and-white blan­kets, dur­ing an ini­ti­a­tion rit­ual

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