Northern Cape - Parts of a 17-year-old boy’s feet from Bonita Park, in Hartswater had to be amputated, after he ran away from an initiation school in Pampierstad in search of food.
After he was tracked down, he was thrashed with a sjambok, while his feet were burnt with fire.
He was later abandoned along the side of the road, where he was left for dead, naked and bleeding, until a passing motorist noticed him and alerted the police.
Due to extensive nerve and muscle damage, his toes had to be surgically removed.
He is scheduled to undergo further amputation on his right foot at the Kimberley Hospital on January 14, due to an infection and persistent bleeding. Since undergoing surgery, Kabelo Mokgweetse is confined to an ill-fitting wheelchair, that is too small for him.
His parents navigate their way on the gravel roads and wheel him to the clinic, which is also situated about four kilometres from their home, to clean his wounds, because they do not have their own transport.
Two people were arrested on charges of attempted murder and will appear in the Pampierstad Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Mokgweetse decided to flee after his second week at the initiation school in November last year after his mentors refused to give him food.
“We were only given water, but no food. They assaulted me because I did not want to buy dagga for the elders at the school, who wanted to smoke. I decided to flee from the initiation school and look for my own food. Before I made my way back home, they dragged me back and assaulted me with a plastic sjambok and sticks until I lost consciousness.”
He added that while his recollection of the course of events had since been blocked out of his memory, due to the excruciating pain, he remembered how his feet were burnt with fire.
“I was screaming and crying from the unbearable pain before I collapsed. There are unspeakable practices that took place at the school, that I have been forbidden from talking about.”
Glaring sores and cuts are visible along the length of his arms, body and head, while there are blisters and burn marks on his legs.
Johannes Selekiso stressed that after what his second eldest son had to endure, he would not be sending his three younger sons for any initiation practices.
“I cannot take that risk, even if it is a legitimate school. Had the passer-by not found my son on the same day that he was almost beaten to death (November 17 2012), he could have died from malnourishment and dehydration. He was unable to move or speak when he was found,” Selekisho said.
Hartswater community policing forum chairman, Samuel Motholengwe, pointed out that Mokgweetse was doomed to a life of unemployment and poverty.
“Although he is entitled to a disability grant, it is not enough to survive on and his prospects of future employment are bleak. Before he was injured, he was also assisting his parents with odd jobs as a means of income because they are unemployed.”
He urged that the bail for the accused responsible for the attempted murder of Mokgweetse, be revoked.
“The accused have been released back into the community, yet this young man has been given a life sentence of forever being reliant on his parents as he is immobile.”