The two boys, aged 10 and 13, bled to death while undergoing circumcision during an initiation in Ha-Mabila village recently, but the mothers were only told of the deaths on the day their sons were due to return home.
In recent years, this age-old tradition has come under the spotlight as the media reports more amputations and deaths from infections among initiates. As of 16 June, Limpopo media had reported that at least three young men had died in the recent initiation season.
Mutshekwa Ranwedzi, whose 13-year-old son died, told OurHealth her dream of her son returning a man after initiation turned into a nightmare.
“I took him to the mountains with the hope that he would return a grown man. I was only trying to do what I thought was best for him as a young man
“The pain I felt when they told me my son was no more, was so unbearable, I wanted to kill myself.
“I thought of how young he was, the dreams and wishes he had for his future and my tears couldn’t stop. It was so painful that at first when I heard the news, I thought they trying to test my guts. I lost my only son. He was so young.”
“I have learned a very big lesson but in a very hurtful way. My son is gone and I will always remember him especially when months like June and July arrives. I advise other women out there to take their children to the hospital (for a medical male circumcision). The bush is not safe at all.”
A devastated Tshinakaho Madume, the mother of the 10-year-old boy who died, said she had been excited to welcome her son back and had prepared his favourite meal on the day he was expected to return.
“I was shocked to hear of my son’s death. They did not even tell me when it happened. It was so horrible and all of a sudden I felt like strangling everyone who was around that time.
“My son was only 10 years old and was my last born,” a heartbroken Madume told OurHealth.
The person who was performing the circumcision was not available for comment but his assistant, who did not want to be named, said: “We apologise deeply to the two families who lost their beloved children… It was not called for, but (the boys) lost too much blood and we couldn’t put a stop to it.
“Our deepest condolences to both families… We are again apologising for not being able to inform them about their deaths when it happened. We know it was very unfair and we apologise.”
Ntsieni Mabila, chairperson of the royal council at Ha-Mabila, said they always advise parents to rather take their children “to hospitals instead of the mountains because it is simply taking a great risk with their lives sending them to the mountains”.
“Every year we come across the very same issue even if it’s not here at our village then it is at our neighbouring villages. Clinics and hospitals are safer than the mountains. The two families are both in our prayers and we will support them throughout their hard times,” he said.