News24

Leaders meet over circumcision deaths

2010-06-14 18:19

Mthatha - Eastern Cape health MEC Phumulo Masuale will meet traditional leaders in the Mthatha area this week over circumcision-related deaths, a spokesperson said on Monday.

Seven youths have died of botched circumcision in the past nine days, said departmental spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo.

The first was a youth from Mandela Park Village, in Mthatha, who died last Saturday.

The second died on Thursday at Godini Village near Libode. Three others died at KwaCele, Marhamzeni and Mkhambathi villages, outside Lusikisiki, on Saturday, while two more from Lusikisiki died on Sunday.

"One of the two initiates who died yesterday (Sunday) was allegedly dumped by a bakkie at his home. The bakkie then sped off," said Kupelo.

He said that while the cause of death was still unknown, the teenager had been in an initiation school.

The health department was "extremely concerned" about the deaths and the high number of casualties involved, with 24 initiates in hospital, some of them since March.

91 died last year

"It costs the department over R1 000 a day to treat an initiate. It is costing us millions of rands," said Kupelo.

The department worked day and night and over weekends, responding to complaints about young boys being circumcised.

"The department is not trying to co-ordinate the ancient tradition, but instead of waiting for initiates to die, we got involved to save the boys' lives and save the department a lot of money."

"We will continue to help, but call on traditional leaders and other custodians of the custom to do more," he said.

Meanwhile, an unregistered traditional surgeon, Mtshiyelwa Mtshayina Ndoda, 55, appeared in the Libode Magistrate's Court for illegally circumcising boys in the area.

He has illegally circumcised more than 300 boys, charging them R200 or a live chicken. His case was postponed until July 22.

Last year alone, 91 initiates died and hundreds were hospitalised in the province.