Child’s tongue removed during initiation – Mpumalanga dad

Provincial police will soon escalate the case of four initiates' deaths to the Directorate of Public Prosecution.

A family from a farming town in Mpumalanga is angered following the death of their son at an initiation school in the province.

Jonas Ditsego demands the truth about what happened to his son, Thabang (27), at an initiation school on the Goedehoop Farm near Leandra, in the Gert Sibande municipal area in Mpumalanga, in July.

Thabang’s body, along with three others was found.

Jonas says his child died mysteriously and someone removed his tongue. The family thus wants the body to be exhumed and thoroughly examined.

“When we arrived at the mortuary, we found the families of the other deceased already there. One family claimed their child was without a tongue. We were shocked and immediately checked Thabang’s body. His tongue was also missing,” says Jonas.

Thabang’s death certificate states he died of unnatural causes. The SAPS found four of the 11 initiates lying on the grass, covered with blankets next to burning tyres. At the time, Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala said all of the deceased had bruises on their heads and bodies.

A man noticed suspicious behaviour and reported the matter to the police.

Thabang Ditsego is one of the four Sotho initiates who died.

Jonas says his son did not get the necessary consent from his family to attend the initiation school.

“This is the first time I heard of an initiation school run out of a garage at a house. The Ditsego family has our own cultural way of preparing boys for initiation.

“We are supposed to conduct an ancestral ceremony before we can attend initiation school. We did not prepare my son,” explains Jonas.

He claims the consent form for Thabang’s entry into the initiation school, where he lost his life, was fake.

“It had not been signed by me or his late mother’s family members… They did not inform us immediately. The first words we heard of Thabang’s death were those uttered on the streets. We only received official confirmation two days later,” says Jonas.

Mohlala says their task team investigated and finalised the case. He adds that the docket will soon be taken to the Directorate of Public Prosecution to decide if someone has to be prosecuted for the deaths of the four young men. The family will be informed of the decision.

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