The rites of passage into full manhood quickly turned into a nightmare for a young boy when a circumcision procedure went wrong.
After seven days of torture at an illegal initiation school in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape, Khaya’s* pen_is had to be amputated. This was done to stop an infection which was spreading fast from his member to other parts of his body.
“My pen_is was rotten by the time I arrived in hospital. It looked like blood had not been circulating for a while. It was heartbreaking. I just wished I had died just like the initiate I saw dying,” he said.
Khaya claims that he and two friends from KwaNyuswa village were deprived of water, as_saulted and tortured at the initiation school, along with 25 other initiates from nearby villages.
One of his friends also had his pen_is amputated, while another was lucky enough to survive intact.
They watched helplessly as one of their group collapsed and died before the rest of them were rescued by monitoring teams and police.
Khaya blames the ikhankatha (traditional nurse) responsible for the ibhoma (initiation school), who was allegedly constantly dru_nk and allowed strangers to touch them and dress their wounds.
“They would dress our wounds so tightly that we could not even move. If you tried to move, the pain was unbearable. They would leave us lying there for many hours and refused to give us water. The only thing they would do was beat us with sticks continuously and demand that we sing,” he said.
Khaya underwent a reconstruction operation at a urology clinic in Pretoria, which was funded by the nongovernmental organisation Community Development Foundation for SA, following an intervention by a support group for amputees in Lusikisiki, which helps men disfigured during initiation.
He says the surgery has given him a sense of normalcy and he is slowly coming to grips with his situation.