AS THE Eastern Cape initiation season enters its second week, seven initiates have already died.

A tragic ibhoma fire claimed its fourth victim on Wednesday.

Health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo told Daily Sun a 16-year-old died from burn wounds while being transported to Dora Nginza Hospital in Port Elizabeth.

He said the 11 other fire victims still being treated at the St Barnabas, Frere and Nessie Knight hospitals were all in a critical condition.

The fire in Ntabasigogo Village in Qumbu killed two initiates in the early hours of Sunday morning and a third died of his injuries on Monday. The latest victim brings the death toll to four.

Another 16-year-old died at his ibhoma in Lusikisiki on Wednesday.

Police spokesman Captain Mduduzi Godlwana said the cause of death of the initiate from Ntafufu Village was not clear as his parents didn’t want to lay charges.

“We opened an inquest docket and a task team is hard at work investigating the death,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Ngqeleni in the OR Tambo region, another illegal traditional surgeon was bust and charged with
unlawful circumcision.

In Mphimbo Village, also in Ngqeleni, cops launched a manhunt for four men accused of brutally assaulting a 16-year-old initiate.

One of the men was the initiate’s uncle, who apparently convinced him to get circumcised. Chief Landile Gwadiso of the Nyandeni Initiation Forum said the victim was taken to Canzibe Hospital in a critical condition after sustaining serious injuries.

Gwadiso said 11 initiates rescued from an illegal school in Guqa Village, Ngqeleni, recently by Traditional Affairs MEC Fikile Xasa were being taken care of.