/ 1 April 2008

Nineteen initiates rescued in the Eastern Cape

Nineteen boys were rescued from an Eastern Cape initiation school on Tuesday, police said.

Captain Mduduzi Godlwana said the 19 boys at an initiation school in Mgodini were found to be in a serious condition.

”We received a tip-off that more initiations were continuing in the area and when we arrived at the illegal school, we found the boys.

”The nurse from the school fled from the scene and all the boys were taken to the Holy Cross hospital for treatment,” Godlwana said.

Police were working with the Department of Health to sort out the problem as many young boys were dying, said Godlwana.

”These illegal initiations are giving us a big problem, especially during this time of year when the children are on holiday.

”We are working hard to find the people responsible and arrests are expected soon,” Godlwana said.

Four boys rescued from initiation schools died on Sunday because of dehydration and septic wounds, the provincial health department said on Monday.

Spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said that 87 boys had been rescued from illegal initiation schools in Tsolo, Libode, and Flagstaff since a joint operation started on March 28.

Kupelo appealed to communities and parents to report illegal initiation schools to the police and the department in order to save lives.

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

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 granted permits to traditional nurses to take care of the boys during the initiation rite.

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