Circumcision man’s agony

Mkhululi Ndamase

A NELSON Mandela Bay traditional surgeon faces being banned from carrying out circumcisions after a botched procedure which landed a young KwaMagxaki man in hospital in December.

Wiseman January, 66, of KwaMagxaki, is facing suspension from the Kwazekwasa Association of Traditional Surgeons and Nurses. It is tasked with safeguarding the practice in the Bay.

The association, which said the young man was not January’s first victim, is pushing to stop him from circumcisions in a bid to protect the city’s image as one of the safest places to practise the tradition in the country.

The young man’s older brother – who lives in Johannesburg – said the initiate was so badly injured that he had to be taken to hospital almost a month after the procedure as he had not healed while at the bush.

January has denied any wrongdoing, saying the complaints were being orchestrated by a group of traditional surgeons who were jealous of him.

However, the man’s brother has complained no one wanted to take responsibility as other traditional surgeons did not “want to snatch his daily bread away from him”.

A traditional surgeon is paid R400 per procedure while a traditional nurse is paid R450.

Traditional surgeons have to be trained, approved and registered, according to the Department of Health.

The circumcision was on November 22, said the brother who cannot be named to protect the young man’s identity.

“We had to take him to hospital to be stitched up after his homecoming ceremony [on December 16]. My brother seems to be fine now but how many cases like this have not been followed up?”

The brother added: “The [Bay municipality] should be grateful no one has been killed yet.”

The municipality has officials employed to oversee circumcision-related matters.

Kwazekwasa association chairman Mcinezeli Mhlambeni, 69, said he had witnessed the botched circumcision.

“After the boy was circumcised, the traditional nurse refused to work on him because of the severity of the situation,” Mhlambeni said.

“This is not the first time he [January] did this but the first time it was not that serious. We have a problem with him because he is new at circumcising boys.

“We, as a committee, are planning on meeting and writing a letter of suspension to the municipality and to January.”

While January admitted the circumcision was botched, he said it was not because he could not do the procedure, but that the young man had jumped while he was busy and thus got injured.

“People were holding him from both sides because he is mentally ill, but I didn’t know that before circumcising him. I started working with initiates as a traditional nurse in 1968 and I have been a traditional surgeon for 22 years. I have never hurt anyone before.”

But Mhlambeni insisted that the young man had not jumped.

Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane said last year that circumcision seasons in the Bay had been incident free since 2007.

The brother said he had tried to report the matter to municipal environmental health official Mike Adams but nothing came of it. “We shouldn’t wait until someone dies. I am prepared to go to court and fight them. I’ll even take them to the public protector if need be,” the brother said.

Adams refused to comment.

Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said: “The municipality is worried that there is even a possibility of the situation that undermines the integrity of the custom within the municipal area. We advise the parents or family of the person involved to contact the Department of Traditional Affairs.”

Qoboshiyane’s spokesman, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, said: “We are not aware of the incident [and] cannot comment.”

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