‘My pe­nis had to be re­moved, or else I would die’

CityPress - - News -

the school. They built a hut in the mid­dle of the bushes us­ing grass.

The in­g­cibi (tra­di­tional sur­geon) ar­rived that evening and per­formed the pro­ce­dure. At first, ev­ery­thing seemed to be go­ing well.

But then the amakhankatha (tra­di­tional nurses) re­fused to give them wa­ter to drink.

“They told us an ini­ti­ate was not sup­posed to drink wa­ter be­cause the wound would not heal,” Msiwa said.

Most of the time, the amakhankatha, who were barely older than the boys, were drunk or high on dagga and other drugs they smoked in the hut, Msiwa said. They abused the boys by beat­ing them with sticks for seven days un­til one of his fel­low ini­ti­ates col­lapsed.

When an am­bu­lance ac­com­pa­nied by po­lice of­fi­cers ar­rived, the ini­ti­ate was pro­nounced dead.

The 27 re­main­ing ini­ti­ates were res­cued from the il­le­gal ini­ti­a­tion school and taken to St El­iz­a­beth’s Hospi­tal, where they re­ceived med­i­cal care. The de­hy­drated boys were treated at the hospi­tal for two weeks be­fore Msiwa and 14 oth­ers were trans­ferred to Holy Cross Hospi­tal in Bizana.

“It was at Holy Cross Hospi­tal that doc­tors told me that my pe­nis had to be re­moved, or else I would die. I cried. I wished that it was a dream. I lost my man­hood and part of me died that day,” he said.

Now based in KwaDukuza near Dur­ban, where he stays with his grand­mother, Msiwa wants to study and be­come a so­cial worker so that he can help peo­ple through sim­i­lar trau­matic life ex­pe­ri­ences.

He has been ridiculed by the com­mu­nity be­cause of his sit­u­a­tion.

“Even the guys I was with at the same ini­ti­a­tion school are now laugh­ing at me,” he said.

Msiwa said a sup­port group in Lusik­isiki helped him deal with his or­deal by pro­vid­ing coun­selling.

Gugulethu Sirhayi, direc­tor of the Lusik­isiki sup­port group for am­putees, de­scribed Msiwa as a brave young man.

She said most of the am­pu­ta­tion cases she dealt with were caused by wounds that had been too tightly dressed, which pre­vented the flow of blood and re­sulted in gan­grene.

Speak­ing on the side­lines of an ANC Youth League event in Park­side in East Lon­don on Thurs­day to mark the June 16 1976 up­ris­ing, Eastern Cape Premier Phu­mulo Ma­su­alle called on every­one to work to­gether to pre­vent the deaths of ini­ti­ates.

*Not his real name

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