A world renowned medico, Dr Robert WM Frater, has come out in support of a website set up by a former Eastern Cape-based state doctor that has exposed irregularities on circumcision in the province. Picture: Reuters
A world renowned medico, Dr Robert WM Frater, has come out in support of a website set up by a former Eastern Cape-based state doctor that has exposed irregularities on circumcision in the province.
Frater, who operates in South Africa and England, said he first observed irregularities in the custom in the late 1940s when he visited the Eastern Cape at the time that he was still a medical student.
Dr Dingeman Rijken, a Dutch doctor who worked at the department of health’s Holy Cross Hospital in Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape, set up a website to expose malpractices in traditional circumcision.
Rijken did this after 43 boys died last month due to botched circumcisions.
A total of 39 boys died in June last year, bringing the number of boys who died in 2013 to 82.
Frater said: “There are complications severe enough to cause death and when Dr Dingeman Rijken
documented these on the web.”
The chairperson of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, said Rijken had undermined the people of the province and their customs.
“It is clear that he would like Dr Rijken to cease his efforts to help.”
Frater is of the view that traditional circumcision should be aborted and replaced by medical circumcision.
“The time has come to start the process of removing traditional circumcision as part of the initiation rite,” he said.
The Film and Publication Board (FPB), which apparently called Rijken to come and explain reasons for setting up the website following a complaint from the Community Development Foundation of South Africa, said although the website was harmful to children under the age of 13, it was also educative.
“The website contains material which may be very disturbing and harmful to children [under the age of 13].
However it must be borne in mind that even though the website contains graphic images, it is a bona fide scientific publication with great educative value.
The website highlights the malice that bedevils this rich cultural practice,” the board said.
Matanzima said there was “nothing educative” about the website.
He blamed the FPB for not doing what it was supposed to do – which was to shut it down.
“Is exposing manhood an education? These are kids belonging to the community. Even if there was consent from them, this is damaging.”
“We as custodians of this custom have not authorised this doctor to do what he has done.”
“We as black people respect other people’s cultures even if there are wrongdoings.”