Hospital runs out of beds as East Cape initiate death toll rises

2015-07-06 16:44

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Johannesburg - The death toll for the winter initiation season in the Eastern Cape has risen to 18 since the weekend, the provincial health department said on Monday.

Spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said 18 initiates had now died, with the last four deaths happening in Mdantsane (2), Mthatha (1) and one from the Chris Hani district.

On Saturday, the toll death toll was 14, while on Friday, the figure was 10. 

Kupelo said on Saturday that five of the boys were from Nyandeni, four from Mhlonhlo, one from Qaukeni, one from Chris Hani, one from Amathole and one from Alfred Nzo.

Five of the initiates were from legal initiation schools, while the others were from illegal schools.The boys were among a number of initiates admitted to hospital due to a combination of problems ranging from botched circumcisions to dehydration and pneumonia.

On Thursday, Kupelo said St Barnabas Hospital in Libode in the Eastern Cape was facing a crisis due to an influx of initiates.

Shortage of beds

Altogether 36 initiates had been admitted to the hospital and it had run out of beds.

"Six ordinary medical cases could not be admitted [on Wednesday night] due to a shortage of beds as a result of initiate influx," he said at the time.

The provincial health department had to intervene by moving some of the boys to Dr Malizo Mphehle Hospital to avert a crisis.

Kupelo said circumcisions were being performed on initiates by people who did not know how to perform them.

Non-governmental organisation Community Development Foundation for South Africa (Codefsa), which is assisting with circumcision rescue operations in the area, had agreed to erect a rescue centre behind the hospital.

Read more on:    east london  |  initiation  |  health

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