Ini­ti­ate dies at il­le­gal school

CityPress - - News - LUBABALO NGCUKANA lubabalo.ngcukana@city­

The fam­ily of a young ini­ti­ate, who died a few days af­ter be­ing cir­cum­cised, has been left reel­ing af­ter he ran away from home to an il­le­gal ini­ti­a­tion school.

Nikelo Suduka (17), the youngest of seven chil­dren at his home in Ngo­jini vil­lage in Ngqe­leni, died in the early hours of Thurs­day morn­ing.

His elder brother, Mvuse­lelo Suduka (43), said the Grade 9 pupil told no­body he was go­ing to un­dergo tra­di­tional ini­ti­a­tion, and died a week af­ter he left home.

Nikelo was one of nine ini­ti­ates who ran away when the il­le­gal ini­ti­a­tion school was vis­ited by the Nyan­deni Ini­ti­a­tion Fo­rum mon­i­tor­ing team, which in­cludes tra­di­tional lead­ers, pro­fes­sional nurses and po­lice.

His un­cle, Seben­zile Qhali (63) said the ini­ti­a­tion school, si­t­u­ated in the vil­lage and a stone’s throw from Nikelo’s home, was il­le­gal. They also did not know the tra­di­tional sur­geon (in­g­cibi) who cir­cum­cised Nikelo and the other boys.

“The boy’s mother is par­tic­u­larly dis­traught. She does not speak to any­one. She has been cry­ing since she heard the news. This was the last born of seven chil­dren. He was her pride and joy,” Qhali said.

Mvuse­lelo said they had learnt his brother was sick at the ini­ti­a­tion school and fetched him on Wed­nes­day night with plans to or­gan­ise trans­port to take him to hos­pi­tal the fol­low­ing morn­ing. But it was too late.

“He died in my arms. My younger brother died while I was plead­ing with him, ask­ing him to be strong and not die. I can’t say what was ex­actly wrong with him be­cause I am not a doc­tor. All I know is that he was con­fused and say­ing things that were not sane. “He was weak and did not have en­ergy. When we gave him food he did not want to eat. I am shocked and trau­ma­tised by the way in which he died. I can­not say what his last words were be­cause he was hal­lu­ci­nat­ing.” Qhali said the il­le­gal ini­ti­a­tion school was closed the same day his nephew died and the re­main­ing ini­ti­ates were res­cued and taken to hos­pi­tal. And al­though it was not the first time boys had gone to an ini­ti­a­tion school with­out in­form­ing their par­ents, it was the first time some­one from their vil­lage had died do­ing so. “We hope that his death will be a les­son to other boys,” he said. “We are also urg­ing the po­lice to search and find the per­son re­spon­si­ble for cir­cum­cis­ing these boys il­le­gally be­cause they are taint­ing the im­age of this cul­tural prac­tice.” The death toll from the win­ter ini­ti­a­tion sea­son now stands at six, said pro­vin­cial co­op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance and tra­di­tional af­fairs spokesper­son Mamnkeli Ngam. Five died in the OR Tambo district and an­other in Dim­baza, which falls un­der Buffalo City. Last Sun­day morn­ing, two ini­ti­ates burnt to death when an ini­ti­a­tion school caught fire. Two more boys from that school died in hos­pi­tal this week. Pro­vin­cial health spokesper­son Sizwe Ku­pelo said more than 20 oth­ers were be­ing treated for se­ri­ous burn wounds in hos­pi­tals in Qumbu and Mthatha.

What can we do to stop the death of ini­ti­ates?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word DEATH and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

Seben­zile Qhali

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