THE STAR, Johannesburg, 1 July 2002.

Initiation deaths: new fears over missing boy

June 30 2002 at 11:57PM

Another boy is feared dead at a traditional initiation school near Heidelberg on the East Rand, with police expected to launch a search for the child on Monday.

Police spokesperson Annaline Prinsloo said a 17-year-old boy who escaped from the initiation school on Monday discovered that the boy sleeping next to him was dead.

She said the police and emergency services officials then visited the school to investigate.

While no body was found, Prinsloo said two of the 16 children had septic circumcision wounds and several others had pneumonia. The children were treated on the scene.

Denied the police permission to remove the sick children

The "teachers" denied the police permission to remove the sick children from the school, while some of the children refused to leave.

Health authorities were then informed and Prinsloo said the school would be closed down on Monday and the children sent home.

She said the 17-year-old who escaped from the initiation camp was taken to Heidelberg Hospital and treated for injuries before being sent home to Vereeniging.

The imminent closure of the school comes a week after five boys died at traditional initiation schools in the Heidelberg area after allegedly being severely beaten and exposed to adverse weather.

(File prepared 01 July 2002)