Overcrowding causes botched circumcisions in Limpopo: CRL Commission

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission) has identified overcrowding as the primary factor behind the botched circumcisions of over 200 initiates in Phalaborwa, Limpopo.

The investigation conducted by the CRL Commission focuses on the alleged incidents of botched circumcisions at an illegal school in the Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality last year, where numerous initiates experienced complications and were hospitalised.

The investigation found concerning information regarding circumcision procedures that resulted in significant harm to numerous initiates. And in response to the concerns, the Commission launched a probe in September 2022, following the rescue of initiates from an unlicensed initiation school who were later taken to Maphuta Malatji Hospital.

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According to the CRL Rights Commission, the traditional surgeon responsible for the circumcisions became fatigued due to the high number of initiates, leading to rushed procedures and resulting injuries.

The Commission also highlights that the initiation school had been authorised by a female traditional leader who was unable to oversee the process, leading to negligence towards the initiates.

Chairperson of the CRL Commission, Professor David Mosoma, explains, “The investigation was prompted by an alternative approach to address the plight of young initiates who sought assistance at Maphutha Hospital after coming from Maseke initiation school. We convened a meeting with the parents to understand the nature of the problem.”

Enforcement of proper procedures

As part of their recommendations, the Commission has called for the enforcement of proper procedures before the opening of initiation schools and emphasises the necessity of providing medical reports as a requirement.

Mosoma highlights the importance of compliance with the Customary Initiation Act, which safeguards the health and dignity of initiates while promoting cultural practices.

Parents whose children were affected expressed a sense of loss and called for greater accessibility of the Commission to communities. Despite the conclusion of the Commission’s work, some parents have raised concerns about their children’s permanent disabilities resulting from the botched circumcisions, urging further investigation into the matter.

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