Fourteen teenagers and two adults had to be re-circumcised after it was found they had not been circumcised properly the first time.
This was revealed during a traditional initiation forum meeting in the OR Tambo district held in Lusikisiki in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province on Sunday.
Traditional leaders and initiation monitoring teams found 14 initiates “half-circumcised” during their visit to an initiation school at Ntshiqo Village in Tsolo.
“Investigating further, we established that even their ingcibi [traditional surgeon]‚ who was said to be 18 years old‚ was also not properly circumcised and neither was the nurse‚ who was 22 years old‚” said Chief Dumisani Lutuka.
“So‚ in agreement with them‚ they were re-circumcised to fix the problem and all the 16 are now in one initiation lodge.”
Lutuka said a legal and experienced traditional nurse had now been appointed to look after the 16 initiates.
The 18-year-old “traditional surgeon”‚ who is now an initiate‚ had been illegally circumcised by a bogus ingcibi three years ago and had been circumcising others since December.
In 2013‚ the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders (ECHTL) was shocked to find a similar case: a monitoring team had come across an ingcibi who had been circumcising boys in the area of Mount Ayliff who was actually an uncircumcised boy himself.
He was also subsequently circumcised and kept in the same initiation school he had been running. Boys and uncircumcised adults are not allowed to watch the rite.
In 2011‚ a young “traditional surgeon” was re-circumcised by three angry men after he illegally circumcised their 14-year-old brother.
Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima said: “Where on earth have you seen a traditional nurse who is 18?
“To be a traditional nurse you must have at least 10 years’ experience as a circumcised man. People are angry with the murder of initiates.”
Department of health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said 28 initiates had been admitted at St Barnabas Hospital in Libode‚ 15 at Canzibe Hospital near Port St Johns‚ 14 at Mthatha Regional Hospital and seven at Malizo Mpehle Hospital in Tsolo.
One initiate transferred to Nelson Mandela Central Hospital was still in ICU.
“Two are admitted at Holy Cross Hospital in Flagstaff‚ one with a septic circumcision wound and one with pneumonia. Other initiates admitted at the hospital have visible assault wounds on their bodies‚” said Kupelo.
“We cannot continue to count the bodies of initiates. Someone must take a bold step to force the laws of this country to get rid of bogus traditional surgeons who maul and kill our boys and those who commercialise the rite.”
Kupelo said the government tried to be proactive by “pumping millions of rands to save the situation” but bogus surgeons continued to undermine efforts.
OR Tambo district initiation forum chairman Chief Gcobani Tyali said his team was working hard to prevent injuries and called on parents and communities to form partnerships in fighting initiation crimes.
“Without their support our success will always be minimal.
“We face similar problems in all areas‚ but we need to have a common approach to these problems. We plan to have a summit just for OR Tambo‚” said Tyali.