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Razor Blades

Sakile Mokoena. Call to cut misconduct at circumcision schools.

Daily Mail & Guardian , South Africa, Friday, 10 August 2001.

 

CIRCUMCISION schools should be regulated without "assassinating" African culture and customs, urged Pan Africanist Youth Congress (Payco) leader in the Northern Province, Matome Mashao, on Thursday. His call follows the cancellation of a provincial circumcision indaba, or meeting, that was to be held on Tuesday but was scuppered when traditional healers and leaders said it would violate the secrecy of the schools.

Eight boys have died at circumcision schools in the Northern Province this winter. They died of complications after being circumcised with razor blades.

Mashao said Payco was not opposed to circumcision or rites of passage into manhood, but that did oppose unscrupulous circumcision school owners interested only in making a profit.

"We would like to see the unscrupulous owners of the schools being brought to book for any misconduct or negligence," he explained. He added: "It is fundamentally wrong for anyone to start the schools for business. They must want to preserve culture, manhood development and consider medical aspects," he said.

The virulence of Aids required that circumcision schools be properly regulated to ensure that razor blades were not used on more than one initiate.

"Given the Aids pandemic the schools can no longer continue unregulated," Mashao explained.

Representative for the MEC in the premier's office, Lucky Nchabeleng, assured traditional leaders that the indaba would not have violated the secrecy of the initiation rites.

"The indaba was not aimed at discussing the contents of the schools, it was meant to seek ways of preventing the deaths that are taking place in the schools," he said.

The indaba is expected to be rescheduled once officials have met with traditional leaders and healers. - African Eye News Service



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