Nearly 100 boys at an initiation school were taken to hospital after three teenagers, allegedly kidnapped a month ago, had been admitted following botched circumcisions.
Grade 8 pupil Sifiso Radebe, 15, and two 17-year-old initiates were admitted to the Jubilee Hospital in Temba near Hammanskraal with septic genitals after operations at the Phelembe Initiation School in Bosplaas, owned by traditional healer Vusi Phelembe, 24.
This prompted the chairman of the community safety committee in the Gauteng legislature, Jacqui Mofokeng, to lead a team of local senior police officers, officials from the Tshwane Metro's health department, and family members of two alleged abducted initiates to investigate.
The team held a meeting with Phelembe at Jubilee Hospital on Wednesday before visiting the school.
The delegates expressed shock at the health condition of the initiates. Some were emaciated and sickly, some walked with difficulty while others coughed continuously. An eight-year-old boy had facial injuries.
A decision was then made to take all the initiates to hospital.
Surgery had to be performed on 78 of them. The hospital's chief executive, Tiny Magano, said the majority of the initiates would spend the weekend in hospital.
The incident has resulted in the closure of the school. There was drama when a group of parents arrived at the hospital yesterday, demanding the return of their children to the initiation school.
Moses Masemola, father of boys aged 13 and 14, said: "We expect the children to graduate. We want them back at the school."
"I don't know which school they want to take them to because Phelembe's school was closed down on Wednesday," said Mofokeng.