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Shock Claims on School for Circumcision

Tefo Mothibeli
Weekend Star/Johannesburg, August, 1994

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MEMBERS of a traditional circumcision school are alleged to be abducting young men they call "uncircumcised baboons" from townships in the Vaal Triangle and circumcising them with razor blades.

Township residents said the youths, who always move in groups, randomly hack and beat young men in the streets and forcibly take them to the circumcision school if they are found to be uncircumcised. It is also alleged that several schools in the area have been invaded by groups who hunt boys and take them to the lebollong (circumcision school) in order "to make men out of them".

One of the alleged victims, Pule Salanyane (24) of Sharpeville, said a knobkierie-wielding group, singing songs with crude lyrics, came to his home and forcefully took him to the circumcision school in Houtkop near Sebokeng.

Salanyane said be tried to explain to his abductors that it was not his family custom to be circumcised, but they would not listen.

Threats made on his life

Salanyane, who lives with his ailing grandfather, said he escaped from the school after being circumcised with a razor after being held for four weeks at the school. His grandfather said Salanyane would have died had he not escaped "with his private parts badly swollen as a reaction to the muti they applied, which did not go well with his blood".

Salanyane said he went to the local police for protection after the group found him and ordered him to return to the school. He said threats were made on his life if he did not "voluntarily" go with his abductors.

Bethuel Tlhako (23), a lekolwane (circumcision school graduate), denied all the allegations made about the school and its members. He said people joined the school voluntarily.

Police said they were aware of the allegations but no charges had been laid against members of the school. The Sharpeville Community Forum, made up of political parties, civic organisations and the police, is to send a delegation to the school tomorrow in an attempt to "resolve the matter amicably."

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