Posted on December 13, 2004

Botched Circumcision Claims 5

Mphumzi Zuzile, iol (Cape Town), Dec. 12

Johannesburg — “I was left unattended for more than five days, I could not urinate and my traditional nurse (ikhankatha) kept on telling me that everything would be alright. He told my parents when they enquired that I am in good condition.”

So said an initiate who has been admitted at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Mdantsane, Eastern Cape, after a botched circumcision.

The 19-year-old is one of the 20 initiates that have been hospitalised in provincial hospitals after circumcisions that went painfully wrong.

Another five initiates have died in the province this week, bringing the number of dead initiates to six since the beginning of the circumcision period about three weeks ago.

The 19-year-old initiate said his traditional nurse “lied” to his parents about his condition until his uncle visited him this week.

“When my uncle reported what was happening to me, my father said I should be taken to hospital, but the traditional nurse refused, saying he would be arrested and fined because he did not have a permit as the law requires.”

The Traditional Health Circumcision Act states that no person may perform circumcision or operate a circumcision school without permission from a medical officer.

Anyone found contravening this could be fined up to R10 000 or imprisoned for up to 10 years, or sentenced to five years in prison with no option of a fine.

“My uncle saw that my situation was worsening so he took me by force and brought me here,” the boy said.

However, other eight initiates who were all lying on their hospital beds refused to talk to City Press.

According to Monde Matshaya, a medical officer, the initiates have been admitted mostly for dehydration, gangrene and septic wounds.

The six boys that have died are from Lusikisiki, Umthatha, Queenstown and Wheatlesea.

More than 200 initiates were hospitalised in Eastern Cape hospitals in 2003 for botched circumcisions. Thirty-one died and 18 traditional surgeons (ingcibi) were arrested.

In June and July this year, 11 initiates died of botched circumcision and more than 230 were hospitalised.

More than 200 initiates had had their penises amputated due to bad circumcision since 1995.

Health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo has appealed to communities to assist his department in stopping the death of initiates.