Fourth initiate dies

Modimolle - The number of initiates who have died following circumcision rituals in Limpopo rose to four on Thursday when a 17-year-old boy died after complaining of severe pain.

Bushveld area police spokesperson Inspector Abbey Makgakge said the teenager died at an initiation school in Phahameng township near Modimolle, formerly Nylstroom, around 03:30.

"An initiate sleeping next to him was woken up by his groaning and called the seniors, but he died before they could ask for help," Makgakge said.

Makgakge was unable to say whether the school was registered with the provincial government as required by the Initiation Schools Regulations Act. "We're still investigating [the status of the school] but don't suspect any foul play," he said.

Spokesperson for the MEC in the office of the premier Catherine Mabuza, Lucky Nchabeleng, was also unable to say whether the school was registered.

Two initiates have died at school this winter, while two others died shortly after graduating.

Mazka Kgatla (19), died from blood loss on June 21 after being circumcised at Mokgolobotho near Tzaneen.

Two more - Moloko Setlabane (13), of Sekgosese near Giyani and Johannes Letsoalo (21) of Komaneng Village near Polokwane - died during graduation ceremonies three weeks ago.

MEC Mabuza shut down 17 unregistered initiation schools in July and 630 initiates were taken to hospitals and clinics suffering from infections and shock.

The closed schools didn't comply with the act's stipulation that they should be linked to a nearby clinic or hospital.

Limpopo police are yet to make an arrest following the illegal operation of the some schools.

Dockets have been sent to the director of public prosecutions to decide whether to prosecute the cases. - African Eye News Service

(File prepared 3 August 2002)