RIVERLEA: Initiate’s escape from illegal school

Police vehicles on Nasrec Road.

The 15-year-old who managed to escape the initiation school.

Last week Tuesday at about 130 pm, a 15-year-old boy ran into the community of Riverlea Extension naked and bleeding from his genitals. Two ladies from the community managed to speak to the boy to find out what happened to him.

Edith Jones* said that the boy was very confused and could not speak English so Elizabeth Peters* who knew how to speak Setswana managed to calm the boy down and a boy from the community also gave the 15-year-old clothes to wear.

Peters said that the boy had stated that he was from Orange Farm and that he had been kidnapped by three men who brought him all the way to the veld to participate in the initiation school. “They marked him with a blade on his forehead, wrists, both feet between the big toe and the other toe, behind the knees and he had a big cut on his penis, at the bottom of the head,” said Peters.

Seen here are police officers before the operation began.

The 15-year-old had told the ladies that his mother had sent him to Pick’n Pay to buy bread when the three men took him. He further told them that there were younger boys already in the car when he got in and they were eating KFC.

As they made their way through New Canada it was then when the boy freaked out and the men blindfolded him and tied his hands. He spent the night in the veld and when it came to the morning the men started circumcising the initiates.

The 15-year-old was the eldest of the boys and after they cut him he escaped and just ran through the veld not knowing where to next.
“What made us more scared is that he said that there were 19 other boys still there,” said Jones.

The boy provided his stepfather’s number and Peters contacted him to tell him what had happened, they then called on the Langlaagte police, who arrived and returned him to his home in Orange Farm.

The vast area in which the illegal activities take place.

When Peters called later that evening, the boy’s mother had told her that he had been to the clinic. Peters spoke to the boy and he said, “They dressed his penis but he was still in a lot of pain”.
Langlaagte police, in a joint operation with nearby police stations, went into the veld on Wednesday morning but unfortunately did not find the illegal initiation school.

According to the station commander, captain Sibanda, the police tries to fight these illegal initiations every year, he added that it’s a cultural practice and that winter is the season where the initiation schools operate because they believe that the cold weather reduced the chances of infections.

Sibanda said, “It’s a school, they need to pay.” He explained that the children are taken and then the parents are served with a ransom in order to get their sons back.

Police officers during the operation of finding the illegal initiation school.

It proved difficult for police to get to the exact location where the schools were held because of the vastness of the area where a lot of ‘Zama-Zamas’ (illegal miners) also operate from.

The area extends until Booysens Reserve and these schools are usually situated close to a water source and hidden in the mine tunnels. He said that the parents never report their children as missing and that was the reason police could not follow up on cases because nothing has been reported.

Three more boys were brought to the Langlaagte police station after escaping from the school.

*Not their real names

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Janice Beckett

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