Some East Cape initiates murdered - dept

2015-07-10 16:02

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Johannesburg - Some of the boys who died during the Eastern Cape's winter initiation season were likely murdered, the provincial health department said on Friday.

Many of them had assault wounds, spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said.

This season's death toll rose to 22 this week, with the most recent one in Lusikisiki in the OR Tambo district, where the most deaths had occurred, 

"He's got a history of asthma and the department, having come from the forensic pathology centre in Mthatha, observed that apart from the boys dying from septic wounds from circumcisions, many presented assault wounds."

One 16-year-old boy appeared to have been "brutally assaulted". He had deep scars on his back and hands, and one of his arms looked like it had been either mauled or stabbed. Another boy died from a pulmonary embolism.

Kupelo said the department was worried because if something was not done, initiates would continue to die.

"It is generally assumed if a boy dies in an initiation school, it is assumed he died from a circumcision," he said.

However, in certain cases boys were purposely murdered, and a task team was needed to investigate these deaths.

Parents need to lay charges

"The department has attempted to approach parents in this regard, to opening murder charges with the police, but they are divided on such action," he said.

"Parents are still the biggest challenge in winning the battle of putting a stop to what is happening. It remains their responsibility to lay charges with the police. They become aware and sometimes before we even assess the bodies, they will tell us their child may have died, but they become reluctant to lay charges."

Both national and provincial government had passsed regulations for the province, and the Criminal Procedure Act allowed police to investigate such matters.

However, "police's hands are tied because parents are not coming to the party", Kupelo said.

"It would be irresponsible of government to allow people to continue to die and count the bodies."

One positive was that seven people arrested in December last year for performing illegal circumcisions were recently denied bail, because of pressure from Tabankulu residents.

"They remain behind bars since their arrest. This is very encouraging if communities are uniting and standing up to these things," Kupelo said.

The Community Development Foundation of SA, which was working with the provincial department, conducted raids in Mbizana municipality where four boys were rescued and taken to hospital. They were still receiving treatment.

Hospital admissions rising

"In OR Tambo district municipality, the numbers have gone up. We are now sitting at 140 admissions to hospitals alone. It is a very worrying situation," Kupelo said.

"We are still progressing with plans to establish field hospitals."

Deputy Traditional Affairs Minister Obed Bapela on Thursday evening visited a hospital in Lusikisiki, where initiates were being treated, and the initiation school where the province's latest death occurred.


Read more on:    east london  |  crime  |  initiation

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