Mom mourns after initiation nurses return son’s body in wheelbarrow

“They dumped him like a dead dog. I did not expect them to treat him like that. I thought he would come back home alive like other initiates.”
Those are the words of a grieving Eastern Cape mother whose son’s lifeless body was driven in a wheelbarrow and dumped in front of her home by traditional nurses who were supposed to nurse him back to health and ensure he graduated to manhood.
Thandisizwe Kununtu, 19, of Mnyameni in Ezinduneni village in Ngqeleni, died on June 28 apparently from a septic wound.
Thandisizwe, his cousin Thabang Mjungula, 17, and 13 other boys, the youngest being 14 years old, were circumcised by a man they only know as Mathafeni on June 18.
While Mjungula and the 13 others graduated from the initiation school on Friday, the Kununtu family is still battling to come to terms with Thandisizwe’s death.
His mother Mampendulo Kununtu, 58, said when the last born of her eight children died, “a small piece of me died with him”.
“The way they treated him was so inhumane. I did not expect my son to be treated like that. They drove him in a wheelbarrow like a dead dog,” she told the Daily Dispatch.Kununtu said she became worried when the Grade 8 Thungweni Junior Secondary School pupil did not sleep at home on June 18 and reported him missing at the Ezinduneni Great Place.
“I was shocked when a group of young men came home and said they wanted blankets for him on June 19, saying my son had been circumcised.
“I asked who had circumcised him and no one told me anything. They only said Mathafeni had circumcised him. I did not even know that he wanted to undergo the rite because he never even asked for permission.
“Then on June 28 at night, a young man came home and told me my son was sick at his initiation hut. We called an ambulance but we could not get one.
“I then went to his initiation hut but I was stopped by men as I was about to get to the hut. I wanted to go in and take my son home so that I could take him to hospital.
“When I returned home, I saw my son in a wheelbarrow, covered in a blanket. My daughter Nomanene took the blanket off and saw that he was dead,” she recalled.
The lifeless body was then taken inside the family rondavel by villagers.
Thandisizwe is the latest casualty of the winter initiation season, where 15 initiates have died in the province.
Nylon Fodo of the Masizakhe Support and HIV/Aids group, a non-government organisation that visits initiation schools with the Nyandeni initiation forum, said Thandisizwe’s mother had alerted him to her son’s condition at around 10pm on June 28.“I called the team that I work with. I then saw a group of men pushing a wheelbarrow but did not know it was Thandisizwe. When I got to his home, I heard that it was Thandisizwe they had been pushing in a wheelbarrow,” he said.
Mjungula would not say who had circumcised them
Reliving his cousin’s last moments, he said Thandisizwe had hallucinations and did not eat. “He would say he sees mist but none of us could see it. He also did not want to eat and constantly had a headache. He also had bloodshot eyes. We were not assaulted and we were given given water so I don’t know what could have killed him.”
Kununtu said they hoped to lay Thandisizwe to rest next weekend but were not sure how they would foot the bill for the funeral...

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