Monday, June 29, 2009

Man dies at SA initiation school

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A teacher at an illegal South African initiation school is expected in court on a murder charge this week, after a man was allegedly beaten to death.

General Morale's body was found hidden in bushes inside an initiation camp in North West Province on Friday.

The other initiates in the school told police the teacher had often beat them since the school opened in May.

Initiates occasionally die after being circumcised but this is believed to be the first death from physical assault.

Circumcision is a tradition in some South African cultures and is seen as a rite of passage into manhood.



Police spokesman Captain Adele Myburgh told the BBC the school has been running since 5 May with eight initiates.

"We understand that the initiates have been assaulted on a daily basis.

"They are told that to be a man you need to be able to take the punches," she said.

Police could not say if any weapons were used during the alleged assaults.

This is the first death of this nature to the reported in the area.

"Usually we have deaths after the circumcision ritual has been conducted; either because it was done incorrectly or an unsterilized tool was used which leads to infection, but this is the first death due to actual physical assault," Captain Myburgh said.

Last month, eight boys died after botched circumcisions in neighbouring Mpumalanga Province.

Police say they are concerned that more more lives could be lost in the coming winter months, as this is the time when most circumcisions are done.

They say they are trying to crack down on the illegal schools but admit that this is a difficult battle to win

"When we learn of an illegal school operating in the area we close it down and in most cases the initiates we find at the schools need some kind of medical attention," Captain Myburgh said.

Initiation schools are required to register with the health department, which ensures teachers are trained how to carry out the circumcisions and makes sure that proper health standards are met.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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