4 more initiates die
THE number of young men who have died at initiation schools in Free State has risen to five within a week after the death of four initiates in Botshabelo over the weekend.
Police have reported that they are battling with illegal initiation schools mushrooming in Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu, as well as boys who were forcibly taken to lebollo "become men".
Some of the initiates are convinced by their peers to go to the lebollo school if they wanted to be regarded as "men".
Police spokeswoman Constable Consolation Mokoale said only two bodies had been identified on Sunday.
"We have arrested a principal and two teachers aged between 27 and 35 after the deaths of the four boys. It is alleged that initiates were assaulted and burnt with hot iron rods on their buttocks as part of punishment. The school was also not registered," said Mokoale.
Police were alerted about the deaths after one of the boys died at Botshabelo Hospital from severe injuries. Police went to the school and found 30 initiates and three bodies.
Eleven of the initiates were taken to hospital with serious injuries.
Mokoale said they were pleading with the parents of children who are missing or who are attending the initiation school to contact them.
Last week, Itumeleng Mojafi, 17, died under mysterious circumstances at an initiation school in Thaba Nchu.
Two families in Mangaung were woken up on Sunday morning by police who informed them of their children's deaths.
Both families said they had refused to allow their children to go to the mountain school as it was against their culture. The boys had gone to the school without their parents' consent.
Ruth Kuzwayo did not give permission to her son Mthandazo, 19, to go to the initiation school. "He left a note on June 22 that he was leaving and I should forgive him. The following day his principal informed me that he was at his school and demanded R1200. I told him that I wanted my son released from the school and he refused. I don't know why my child was killed. I demand answers from his killers," said Kuzwayo.
Mthandazo was fetched from the school in 2010 after he went there without telling his mother. Last year he was circumcised by a private surgeon to prevent him from going to the initiation school.
A fuming Grace Ngontshane said her grandson Morena Potsane, 17, defied her and went to the school without her permission.
Ngontshane had fetched Morena from the school three times before his death.
"On June 23 he went missing. Later his principal arrived with a list of things that I should buy, including paying him R1800 for his graduation. On Sunday morning the same man woke me up with the police but failed to tell me that he had killed my child," she said.
The families said they had been told that the boys were burned every night and then severely assaulted until they died.
The suspects are expected to appear in court today on four charges of murder. - firstname.lastname@example.org