Bogus traditional surgeon jailed for murder, assaults

A bogus traditional surgeon who illegally circumcised and then assaulted five underage boys when they could not pay him his R100 fee has been sentenced to 17 years in jail.

One initiate later died in hospital because of the severe assaults at the hands of Asavela Mfitshi, 21.

They were beaten with sticks, sjamboks and fists. They were also tortured by having burning plastic dripped on their bodies.

The Mthatha Regional Court sentenced Mfitshi to 12 years in jail for one count of murder, three years for four counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and two years for five counts of unlawful circumcision in contravention of the Eastern Cape Health Standards in Traditional Circumcision Act of 2001.

The sentences will run consecutively.

The surviving initiates initially did not want to cooperate and refused to hand over their medical records to investigating officer Constable Dumisa Maqhabatshane.

To secure their attendance in court and witness testimonies, the four were served with subpoenas.

They then testified that they would never forget the Saturday night of July 10 2015 as Mfitshi – then 19 and in Grade 10 – entered their Ngqeleni initiation hut drunk and demanded the R100 fee. He hit them with sticks and instructed two other youths, both aged 16, to continue with the beatings.

Mhlekude, 17, succumbed to his injuries and died at the Mthatha Central Hospital.

Mfitshi was running an illegal initiation school at Mfundweni village, Qhokama, in Ngqeleni.

Five teenage boys aged between 15 and 17 asked him to circumcise them, even those under 18 are prohibited from undergoing the rite.

Mfitshi initially pleaded not guilty but changed his plea to guilty after prosecutor Gugulethu Madubela led the evidence of his victims.

Mfitshi’s two accomplices, who as minors may not be named, have pleaded not guilty and their separate trial is to be heard on November 13.

Magistrate Noxolo Mfobo described the crime as “unpardonable” because someone had lost his life for a meagre R100. — lulamilef@dispatch.co.za

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