THE DISPATCH, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, 22 June 2003.

Circumcision: parents lay charge against surgeon

UMTATA (South Africa)-- Parents of a 14-year-old initiate from Libode have laid charges against a traditional surgeon who conducted an incomplete circumcision without their consent.

When provincial Health Department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo visited St Barnabas Hospital in Libode yesterday he was informed that the initiate's foreskin was incompletely cut.

Nurses treated and discharged the initiate, who said a man known as Njini (engine) circumcised him.

Kupelo said they were also looking for a surgeon known as Mpisi from Libode.

A third surgeon known as Khonkcweni from Ngidini, who recently circumcised 24 boys with the same tool, would also be arrested, he said.

"We are going to close down this circumcision school, because most of the boys there are under age and three of them had septic circumcisions. They were treated and discharged."

They were also looking for an unknown Mdantsane man who circumcised boys recently.

None of these surgeons were registered.

St. Barnabas Hospital records showed that this season nine boys were circumcised in a safe Western method at the hospital. All have been discharged.

Kupelo yesterday proceeded to the Umtata General Hospital, where four initiates have been admitted since Monday from the Sibangweni administrative area, near Libode. Traditional nurses allegedly assaulted these initiates and the community decided to close down the initiation school, Kupelo said.

The hospital's records showed 11 initiates have been treated since the start of this season.

"We have already arrested a traditional surgeon known as S. Mtwa from Etyeni, near Tsolo for circumcising boys without their parents' consent," Kupelo said.

The department was trying to arrange a meeting with the village chief after officials received death threats from residents in Mfabantu, near Tsolo.

Kupelo said the matter had been reported to the police.

(File prepared 25 June 2003)