May 27, 2013
Cutting to truth about circumcision
by Lebogna Seale
Johannesburg - Inexperienced and bogus traditional surgeons are using a single razor blade to circumcise several initiates - exposing them to life-threatening diseases, including HIV/Aids.
This is just one of the shocking findings of an investigation by The Star into the deaths of at least 28 initiates in Mpumalanga since the start of the circumcision season on May 7.
Other harrowing stories that have emerged include those of botched circumcisions and drunk monitors.
The Mpumalanga deaths, which have drawn condemnation from around the country, occurred in the Nkangala district towns of Siyabuswa, KwaMhlanga, Verena, Kwaggafontein, Middelburg, Bethal and Evander.
The region falls under King Mabhoko III of the Ndebele people. At least six more initiates have died in Limpopo’s Sekhukhune district.
At a media briefing in KwaMhlanga on Friday, MEC for Health Candith Mashego-Dlamini said post-mortem results had shown the initiates died of haemorrhage, hypothermia and unnatural causes.
She laid the blame squarely on about 30 unauthorised traditional leaders.
Circumcision is part of ingoma, a ritual that boys go through to reach manhood.
... the circumcision rituals ... will end on July 7.
“There are many individuals who are not traditional surgeons or traditional doctors going about circumcising these boys,” said one doctor.
“They are just ordinary people whose fathers used to be well-known traditional surgeons. They think it (traditional surgery) is a birthright. It’s not.
“There are those among them who use one razor (to circumcise many boys). They are just after money. ...
Two medical personnel corroborated claims of botched circumcisions saying these were as a result of unauthorised traditional surgeons performing them under pressure of tight deadlines.... the doctor said he could see about 150 within one-and-a-half hours, on average.
The Star understands the issues of workload and deadlines was among those discussed at Friday’s meeting.
Ikosi Willem “VW” Mahlangu, the leader of the Ndzundza Fene Traditional Council ... [said "]I communicate with the amakhosana and they tell me that everything is fine.
“I only realised after the deaths that all is not right.”
He added that alcohol abuse among some parents and amakhosana could also be a contributing factor.
Ingoma Forum chairman Musa Thugwana confirmed that botched circumcisions were among the factors responsible for the fatalities.