Initiate dies at illegal school

2017-07-02 06:00
Sebenzile Qhali

Sebenzile Qhali

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The family of a young initiate, who died a few days after being circumcised, has been left reeling after he ran away from home to an illegal initiation school.

Nikelo Suduka (17), the youngest of seven children at his home in Ngojini village in Ngqeleni, died in the early hours of Thursday morning.

His elder brother, Mvuselelo Suduka (43), said the Grade 9 pupil told nobody he was going to undergo traditional initiation, and died a week after he left home.

Nikelo was one of nine initiates who ran away when the illegal initiation school was visited by the Nyandeni Initiation Forum monitoring team, which includes traditional leaders, professional nurses and police.

His uncle, Sebenzile Qhali (63) said the initiation school, situated in the village and a stone’s throw from Nikelo’s home, was illegal. They also did not know the traditional surgeon (ingcibi) who circumcised Nikelo and the other boys.

“The boy’s mother is particularly distraught. She does not speak to anyone. She has been crying since she heard the news. This was the last born of seven children. He was her pride and joy,” Qhali said.

Mvuselelo said they had learnt his brother was sick at the initiation school and fetched him on Wednesday night with plans to organise transport to take him to hospital the following morning. But it was too late.

Check out the City Press Initiation Watch app here

“He died in my arms. My younger brother died while I was pleading with him, asking him to be strong and not die. I can’t say what was exactly wrong with him because I am not a doctor. All I know is that he was confused and saying things that were not sane.

“He was weak and did not have energy. When we gave him food he did not want to eat. I am shocked and traumatised by the way in which he died. I cannot say what his last words were because he was hallucinating.”

Qhali said the illegal initiation school was closed the same day his nephew died and the remaining initiates were rescued and taken to hospital. And although

it was not the first time boys had gone to an initiation school without informing their parents, it was the first time someone from their village had died doing so.

“We hope that his death will be a lesson to other boys,” he said. “We are also urging the police to search and find the person responsible for circumcising these boys illegally because they are tainting the image of this cultural practice.”

The death toll from the winter initiation season now stands at six, said provincial cooperative governance and traditional affairs spokesperson Mamnkeli Ngam. Five died in the OR Tambo district and another in Dimbaza, which falls under Buffalo City.

Last Sunday morning, two initiates burnt to death when an initiation school caught fire. Two more boys from that school died in hospital this week. Provincial health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said more than 20 others were being treated for serious burn wounds in hospitals in Qumbu and Mthatha.

What can we do to stop the death of initiates?

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