Expert supports initiation school

A CULTURAL expert from KwaZulu-Natal, Professor Jabulani Maphalala, has explained the actions of the ingcibi or initiation school head who concealed the death of an 18-year-old boy at an initiation school in Vrede, Free State.

Maphalala was commenting after a KwaZulu-Natal parent, Mpume Buthelezi, complained that she was not informed of her son's death during circumcision.

Sthembiso Khumalo of Nquthu, northern KwaZulu-Natal died on Saturday, soon after circumcision, which left his mother furious and devastated.

Since the circumcision period started this winter, 40 initiates have died in the Eastern Cape alone.

Though Sthembiso died in Free State, he is the first KwaZulu-Natal resident to die during circumcision.

"I am heartbroken. When my son went to the initiation school I was informed and gave my blessings. But when he had complications and died inside the camp, I was not told and this has caused so much pain to me," she said.

As if that was not enough for the family, they will not be able to bury their loved one.

"We have been informed that since he died inside the initiation school, he has to be buried according to the tradition, where only men would attend the funeral and not me because I am a woman.

" I have no say in my son's burial," she said sobbing.

Maphalala stood by ingcibi. "The family has just to accept the situation as it is-because that's exactly what happens. Traditionally, if someone has died at the initiation school, he is buried there and the family is not even informed and there's nothing one can do," he said.

Meanwhile, parents in Limpopo province are complaining about high fees being charged at circumcision schools.

This follows allegations that some schools were charging at least R1 000 an initiate.

Parents said the exorbitant fees deprived boys from poor families passage to manhood.

One parent said he respected that traditionally it was compulsory for boys, especially those living in rural villages, to go through the passage.

"But if the practice of charging exorbitant fees continues we will be left with no option but to take our children to hospitals." he said.