Eastern Cape initiation death toll rises

2015-07-03 18:31
Five of the seven initiates who ended up at the Sipetu Hospital in Ntabankulu after they were rescued from an illegal initiation school in Qumbu, Eastern Cape. PHOTO: Lubabalo Ngcukana

Five of the seven initiates who ended up at the Sipetu Hospital in Ntabankulu after they were rescued from an illegal initiation school in Qumbu, Eastern Cape. PHOTO: Lubabalo Ngcukana

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Johannesburg - Ten people have now died during the current Eastern Cape initiation season, according to the provincial health department on Friday. 

Spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said that in the last two days three boys had died. Two boys had died on Thursday, the first in Mhlakulo village in Tsolo and the second in Dutywa.

The third boy died on Friday morning, one of four boys admitted to Holy Cross hospital in Flagstaff.

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.

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.

Reputable nurses

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.

Chief Bokleni, a senior chief in the area, had given his permission for the land behind the hospital - not part of the property - to be used.

Kupelo said Codefsa would carry the costs, while the health department would need to provide support with medical kits and monitoring personnel.

"Chief Bokleni will assign reputable traditional nurses for the duration of their stay [and] health nurses and doctors will monitor. Security guards will be assigned to secure the initiation village or rescue centre," he said.

Other initiate admissions in the province had seen 14 boys admitted to Mthatha central hospital, seven to Dr Malizo Mpehle hospital in Tsolo and 15 to Canzibe hospital in Ngqeleni.

Six people died last week in connection with the current initiation season in the province.

Read more on:    east london  |  initiation  |  health

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