The butcher of Pondoland

2010-07-04 11:57

Notorious Pondoland ingcibi ­Mtshiyelwa “Mtshayina” Ndoda has circumcised nearly 900 young boys over the past two months, some of them still in ­lower primary school.

One of them, a 17-year-old from Mthombe village, died six days ­after being circumcised.

A logbook Mtshayina showed City Press this week listed 580 ­initiates.

A second logbook seized by police boosted the total by another 300, according to ­provincial health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo.

The ingcibi was arrested on June 5 and was released on bail.

Mtshayina, who will face two separate trials later this month – one at the Libode Magistrate’s Court on July 22 and the other at the Mthatha Regional Court on July 28 – circumcises initiates at his homestead in KuZele village in Libode.

He is defiant, insisting that he will not stop or “sell the custom”. He is also not concerned about the two trials he faces for performing illegal circumcisions.

“Parents open these cases but do not attend the trials,” he said.

Kupelo blamed initiates’ parents for the fact that Mtshayina was still free.

“After their sons are treated they are nowhere to be found when asked to testify against ­Mtshayina,” said Kupelo.

Mtshayina charges R50 or one chicken to perform the ritual and sometimes he has hundreds of chickens at his homestead.

The 58-year-old, an ingcibi since 1981, denied responsibility for the botched circumcisions and deaths attributed to him.

“My cut is always perfect; the problem is poor care after that. At their huts there is a lot of abuse by amakhankatha (traditional nurses) who force them to smoke dagga,” he said.

Many of his initiates, some of whom come from as far as Mthatha, Lusikisiki and Ngqeleni, do not have parental permission.

He said many of his initiates were in grades two, three and four, and a 12-year-old he had ­circumcised was well-built and did not look that young.

“The age limit of 18 should be told to parents who bring their kids here,” Mtshayina said.
If parents did not come, he said, he required initiates to bring a ­circumcised older brother.

When City Press met him this week, Mtshayina had just circumcised his last group of initiates on Monday and was left with five more who were in a mud hut at his homestead.

These included four school-going teenagers and a 41-year-old man from ­Mtshayina’s village.

The group looked jovial and healthy, helping themselves to mountainous plates of umngqusho (samp and beans).

“I slaughter up to 10 chickens a day for my initiates,” he said.

At the height of the circumcision season, Mtshayina has 68 initiates at his home, where there is also an ibhoma (initiates’ hut).

He sometimes has to work through the night, with the help of his brother-in-law, when the queue of initiates is long.

He asks initiates in higher grades at school to help him record their details (full name, surname and age).

“In 2009 and this year I broke records,” he boasted.

Despite complaints by traditional leaders from Pondoland, Mtshayina insisted he was doing nothing wrong.

“Police took my permit in 2002 when I was arrested and spent nine months at Wellington Prison in Mthatha,” he said.

At Wellington he circumcised three awaiting-trial inmates, using smuggled razor blades.

“Prison warders never saw a thing. We cut prison sheets and used herbs from the prison gardens to nurse them,” he said.

Currently serving a suspended sentence for illegal circumcision, Mtshayina has been fingered by King Ndamase Ndamase of the Mpondo, local government and traditional affairs MEC Sicelo Gqobhana and the Eastern Cape health department as the main culprit behind the high death rate among Pondoland initiates.

“Everyone in every ibhoma identifies his ingcibi as Mtshayina,” Ndamase said last Friday.

Many initiates at St Barnabas Hospital in Libode last week also confirmed that Mtshayina had been their ingcibi.

So far 22 Pondoland initiates have lost their penises due to botched circumcisions since the initiation season started.

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