Eastern Cape initiate stabbed, abducted
A youth was stabbed, apparently with a spear, when he tried to run away from an initiation school in the Lady Frere area of the Eastern Cape, the provincial health department said on Thursday.
Spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the incident happened at the weekend, when the youth sought refuge at a clinic in the village of Qhashu, shutting himself into the security guard's building there.
"This group of men who were chasing after him allegedly broke the windows of the guard house, forced the initiate out, beat him and took him back to the school," Kupelo said.
"He is alleged to have been stabbed with a spear, and sustained a wound under his arm."
The youth had been admitted to Lady Frere's Glen Grey hospital in a critical condition, Kupelo said.
"Influential people from the district are alleged to have been part of this barbaric act, so it is difficult for people to go and lay charges with the police," he said.
He said the youth was an orphan.
The department had instructed its district health manager to lay a complaint of vandalism with the police, over the damage to the security building.
The department would also ask the police to investigate the stabbing and abduction.
"It does not matter what position the people responsible hold in the community. They must face the law," he said.
An officer at the Lady Frere police station said police were investigating the incident, but she was not aware of any arrests.
Head of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, who himself comes from the Lady Frere area, said he had heard of the incident, and had been told police were investigating.
"We are trying to respect the law. We don't want to say anything about it until we are informed properly of the events in Lady Frere around that boy," he said.
"We don't want to accuse anyone. We will wait until the outcome then we'll see what to do."
Traditional leaders in the province have been pressing this year for more control over the traditional circumcision ceremony, and have called for changes to the province's circumcision legislation.
Kupelo said the circumcision season death toll had risen to 16, with the death of a would-be initiate at Mbizana on December 28.