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