AN EASTERN Cape family has been left traumatised by the death of their teenage son, who was allegedly a victim of assault at an illegal initiation school.
The bereaved Maphetshana family from Gxulu village near Mthatha was visited by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Obed Bapela.
Bapela visited the Eastern Cape as the death toll of initiates continues to rise. It now stands at 22.
Grade 10 pupil Cinga Maphetshana, 16, is counted among the young men who have lost their lives after undergoing the traditional rite of passage to manhood. He died on Monday. “We are devastated. They beat my son to pulp,” said his distraught mother Nombulelo. She said Cinga had disappeared from the family’s home on June 21 while they were preparing to go to church.
The family only learnt he had gone to an initiation school when that night two men came to the home and demanded blankets and groceries for Cinga as well as R350 and a bottle of brandy as payment for the traditional surgeon.
However, due to the family’s financial situation, they only handed over Cinga’s old blankets and promised to pay later.
The woman said the school kept the teenage boy away from his family. Cinga was then brought home on June 27 because he was hallucinating and they feared he would be “contagious” to other initiates .
“He was very weak, thirsty and hungry. When given food, he ate like a zombie. In fact he was walking like a zombie,” said Cinga’s father, Orlando Maphetshana, with tears in his eyes. Cinga slept in the family rondavel with one of his traditional nurses and both parents were denied access to him.
“They did not even allow his father to see him even though Cinga was in my rondavel, not at the initiation school,” said the mother.
On Monday morning, the traditional nurse took Cinga for a walk.
“But he never came back alive. Only the traditional nurses came back, saying our son had died,” said Nombulelo.
It was only then that the family saw the state of their son’s now lifeless body.
“Beat marks criss-crossed his body. There were deep cuts on his hands and there were wounds apparently caused by burnt plastic and hot iron.
“Cinga was tortured. He died of beatings, dehydration, starvation and he was denied medical attention,” a relative and neighbour, Thembisile Mfundisi, told the deputy minister during his visit to the family on Thursday.
A case of murder was opened on Tuesday but no arrests have been made.
The grieving mother said they had planned to bury Cinga next Wednesday, “but by the looks of things, this will not work as so far they could not get assistance to bury him”.