/ 31 March 2008

Four dead in E Cape after attending initiation schools

Four boys died after they were rescued from initiation schools in the Eastern Cape, the provincial health department said on Monday.

Spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said that in a joint ongoing operation, which started on Friday, 87 boys were rescued from illegal initiation schools.

”Unfortunately four have since died. A total of 67 are in hospitals … eight are in a critical condition. Sixteen were released to the chiefs so that they could finish the process,” he said.

Kupelo said the boys died because of dehydration and septic wounds.

He said the operation was being conducted in Tsolo, Libode and Flagstaff.

Kupelo appealed to communities, parent, and the entire province to report illegal initiation schools to the police and the department — to ensure lives were saved.

”These schools were illegal because the department was not involved as we have to grant permits for circumcision.”

He said the department was required to grant permits for each boy to be circumcised after he had undergone medical preliminary examinations to ensure he was fit to be circumcised.

The department also granted the traditional nurses permits to take care of the boy during the process.

”We also deploy health officials to these schools to ensure there will be no negligence during the circumcision process,” Kupelo said.

He pleaded with the Eastern Cape province to support the department’s efforts to curb unnecessary deaths and complications during this traditional process.

Murder cases have been opened by the police, Kupelo said.

No arrests had been made yet and the alleged culprits were still at large. — Sapa