Doctors treating the three initiates rescued from the bogus school in Crown Mines in Johannesburg say the patients are recovering well from injuries.

The initiates have been hospitalised at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital since Tuesday.

Aged 21, 16 and 14, they are grateful to be alive. They were rescued following the death of fellow initiate Thabiso Ntsane at the age of 23.

Gauteng COGTA MEC Lebogang Maile visited the patients. He says the initiates were abused by the initiation school principal.

“We also established that the principal of the school was paid about R1 750 by the parents and they also explained that they were abused physically as well when they were not adhering to the rules and instructions that they were given; hence they’ve got visible scars on their bodies.”

They are recovering from their physical injuries but the psychological damage may take time to heal. Senior Clinical Executive at the hospital, Dr Sean Doherty says the initiates are responding well to therapy.

“They were quite severely injured, they responded well to therapy. Thankfully in the long-term, their physical injuries will recover. Obviously their psychological injuries are quite marked as the MEC said it may take a long time to recover, but we are hoping in the long term the initiates will be okay.”

Maile says the school’s principal was found with an illegal certificate that dates back to 2016. He says they plan to join forces with municipalities and other departments to clamp down bogus schools.

“We want to call on the citizens to alert law enforcement agencies and authorities if they suspect anything. Secondly, we want to call on the municipalities to enforce their by-laws. And thirdly, we will work with the provincial team that is constituted by the department of health, community safety and cooperative governance and the two recognised chiefs including CONTRALESA, which is responsible for the monitoring of these initiation schools.”

Police Minister Bheki Cele says merely shutting down schools is not sufficient to decrease the number of fatalities.

“The people that do these things either legally or illegally have to help us tighten the law and make sure that the schools are not just closed, but that the people are arrested and charged with murder, not any other thing.”

For now, the three initiates will remain in hospital care and will also be receiving trauma counselling.