Four initiates lose their lives in illegal initiation schools

Zukile Majova

At least four young men have died at different illegal circumcision schools in the Eastern Cape in the past two weeks.

At Nomadolo Village in Ngqeleni, 21-year-old Yamnkela Novokoza was assaulted by young men who usually gather at the initiation school.

The cause of his death on 23 November has not been established but the initiate had a history of nausea, vomiting, not eating and difficulty in breathing.

Novokoza was the third initiate to die in the OR Tambo region which covers Mthatha.

In Dubeni Village an initiate fought almost all night for his life and died at 2am on 20 November.

A statement from the Eastern Cape government said: “It is said he was done umojiso on 19 November, then on the 20th they noticed that he was weak and was given food.

“That night they called him but he didn’t respond. They called people around 2am but when they returned he was dead.”

Umojiso is an important traditional ceremony done for initiates to signal the completion of the first stages of the right of passage into being a man.

In one of the most painful incidents at Mtshayelo Village in Flagstaff, Zwelethemba Mgilane died on 13 November after experiencing visual hallucinations, diarrhoea and loss of energy.

Mgilane and eight others were part of an illegal initiation school where eight other initiates were taken to Holy Cross Hospital for further treatment.

Scrolla.Africa went to Kubele Village in Tsolo where Zamo Phoswa, a mental health patient, died at an illegal initiation school.

“One initiate remains in the initiation school and his condition also needs attention,” said an official statement from the government.

The statement also revealed that the family reported that the patient defaulted on his treatment in October. 

“He developed visual hallucinations, shortness of breath and refused to take food and water. He was taken to the nearest clinic and referred to Mthatha hospital but was not immediately taken to hospital and unfortunately he passed away at home.”

Image source: Mkhuseli Sizani