initiates PUT IN danger

DUSTY FOOD: Young girls kneel after delivering food to the Malamulele initiation school in Limpopo. Some parents and the health department are pleading with initiation schools to wrap up food before handing it over to initiates because of the health hazards. Pic. Elijar Mushiana. 02/10/08. © Sowetan.
DUSTY FOOD: Young girls kneel after delivering food to the Malamulele initiation school in Limpopo. Some parents and the health department are pleading with initiation schools to wrap up food before handing it over to initiates because of the health hazards. Pic. Elijar Mushiana. 02/10/08. © Sowetan.

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

Unhygienic conditions at Limpopo koma schools is in the spotlight.

This follows the deaths of four people who died of diarrhoea in initiation schools in the province this year.

Several other initiates were treated at various health institutions for diarrhoea and pneumonia, while hundreds were admitted for botched circumcisions.

Doctors attribute the situation to poor health conditions in the schools in terms of what the initiates eat, the chilly weather and the water they drink.

Some of the initiates were released from the schools before graduation period was over because of running stomachs and pneumonia. The situation has compelled the department of health to insist on improved hygiene-awareness programmes at koma schools.

A typical example was when hundreds of maidens brought food and drinks to Hasani initiation school graduates in Malamulele, outside Giyani, recently.

The food was put in open dishes and was not covered with cloth while initiates and caregivers danced around it. Authorities and concerned parents complained that the food collected dust and compromised the health of their children.

Grace Mshele, a mother whose son was admitted to a hospital in Giyani suffering from diarrhoea, appealed to the health department and House of Traditional Leaders to take health issues seriously.

Health department spokesman Phuti Seloba said they had embarked on a campaign to take hygiene education programmes beyond initiation schools to graduations and celebrations.

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