Arrests after botched circumcision


“I could not believe what I saw. I thought my son was dead.”

Photo of a family
Abulele Zengazi with his father, Vulamasango, and mother, Novelile. Photo: Yamkela Ntshongwana

Abulele Zengazi of Qumbu village near Mthatha says that he went to initiation school looking forward to becoming a man. Days later, he woke up in hospital.

Zengazi says, “When I woke up in hospital my manhood was damaged.” Doctors told him half his penis “fell down”.

Since returning home, the 21-year-old has been struggling to go out and meet his friends. He is afraid of seeing the man he blames for the botched circumcision. He has lost his girlfriend. He often locks himself in his bedroom. He suffers from nightmares.

On 23 June, Zengazi and his younger brother, Sikhonzile, aged 19, went to an initiation school in Bhukweni village.

He says one night the initiation nurse, NS (GroundUp cannot name him because he has not yet pleaded), arrived at the school with his friends. Zengazi believes they had been out drinking. NS instructed the initiates to keep their legs apart while they slept; this is after the circumcision. Zengazi says his legs closed when he fell asleep. He was awoken by the nurse with a hard slap.

NS and his friends then beat him, he says. “I kept on begging for mercy but they did not care … I cried out but no one could hear me because they started singing while they continued beating me with a stick,” Zengazi tells GroundUp through tears.

Zengazi says that NS along with one of NS’s friends tied each of his legs with rope to a pillar inside the initiation school. All this time they swore at him and called him names. He passed out. The next thing he knew he was in hospital.

Zengazi’s father, Vulamasango, says that on the night of the incident he received a phone call at 3am from a man who lives near the initiation school. The man told him that he heard noises coming from the school and he had better get there immediately.

“When I got there I could not believe what I saw. I thought my son was dead. He was lying there covered in blood and poo,” says Vulamasango.

“I felt so helpless seeing my son in that state. As I was getting closer to him I saw he was still breathing. I untied him and took them both [the younger son too] home,” he says. NS and his friends had already left.

“I first washed him. He was smelling terrible and in pain. I then called an ambulance. They were both taken to Sulenkama Hospital in Qumbu,” Vulamasango says.

Zengazi spent nearly two months in hospital.

The family opened a case of assault at Tina Falls police station, Qumbu.

Vulamsango says he went and found NS and handed him over to the police, who later let him go.

The investigating officer, who only identified himself as officer Kanjana, confirmed that NS was handed over to police by Vulamasango. He said NS appeared in Qumbu Magistrate Court on charges of assault and was given bail. NS was later rearrested and is still in the holding cells awaiting his next court date which is set for 4 October. Two further arrests were made in connection with the assault on Zengazi.

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TOPICS:  Crime Health Society

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Dear Editor

I have only just read the article about this horrific incident. It seems that the young man was treated only at Sulenkama Hospital, presumably a district hospital. There is no indication whether he was referred to a specialist hospital with a urology department possibly Mthata or Cecilia Makiwane hospitals or preferably Groote Schuur Hospital.

This is surely a matter where Groundup staff have an obligation to research what resources might be available to assist this unfortunate young man and others who may find themselves in a similar position.