Initiate hand at risk after assault

An Eastern Cape initiate may lose his right hand as a result of a severe assault a fortnight ago, allegedly by his traditional nurses.

Asiphe Macini, 18, is currently being treated at Frere Hospital after he was transferred from Thafalofefe Hospital in Centane on December 15 with a swollen hand.

An assault, allegedly by the two nurses, one a relative, had taken place just two days prior. Asiphe’s mother Phumela Macini said her son, a high school pupil in Philippi, Cape Town, was severely assaulted with a knobkierie, allegedly for oversleeping in his hut on December 13.

Butterworth police spokesman Captain Jackson Manatha yesterday said the matter was reported to police, but a case of assault will be officially recorded once the victim is out of hospital and a J88 form filled in. The J88 is an official form issued by the Department of Justice which documents the medico-legal examination that a healthcare practitioner performs on a victim and highlights findings that are potentially relevant for a legal action.

Macini said her family had previously been informed by Frere Hospital doctors that her son’s right hand may have to be amputated due to the severity of his injuries.

However, she said a final decision would be made by doctors “in the next few days”.

“This is very painful and emotional for us. As the family we were preparing to celebrate his homecoming, which was scheduled for January 6.

“The incident happened on December 13 and we were informed two days later by one of the traditional nurses that Asiphe’s hand was heavily swollen after he was assaulted and his hand placed near a fire. We were told that he was assaulted by two traditional nurses for oversleeping during the day, but what makes my blood boil is that one of the nurses is a relative, someone we trusted would take care of our son,” an emotional Macini said.

She said none of the traditional nurses had visited her family to explain what had happened or had shown any remorse for their alleged action.

“I don’t know what will happen to my son if his right hand is eventually amputated as that is the hand he uses to do everything, including writing at school.”

Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo yesterday said Asiphe was diagnosed with dry gangrene.

Kupelo said a medical assessment had shown that the initiate’s hand tissue died because the supply of blood was blocked as a result of his injuries. However, he said amputation would be their last resort.

“As for now, doctors will do everything in their power to try and save the boy’s hand.”

Cooperative governance and traditional affairs department spokesman Mamnkeli Ngam yesterday condemned the incident, which he described as barbaric and unacceptable. “This is purely a criminal offence and the law should take its course,” Ngam said.

Currently, Ngam said, the initiation season’s death toll stood at 17. Some died as a result of assault. He said most of the deaths had taken place in the OR Tambo district where 10 initiates died.

In Buffalo City Metro two initiates died, two in Alfred Nzo district and one each in Amathole, Joe Gqabi and Chris Hani districts. —

Please sign in or register to comment.