Durban parents seek legal advice after botched circumcision

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The parents of a 10-year-old boy, whose urinary tract was severed in a circumcision procedure at the KwaMashu Community Health Centre in Durban, are seeking legal advice.

The boy is believed to be one of seven children who suffered complications following the procedure.

The organisation that performed the procedures is allegedly contracted by the provincial health department.

The department runs a wide-scale drive for medical male circumcision to lower the chances of males contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

“When other children see my private parts when I use toilets at school, they make fun of me. They even laugh at the fact that my urine does not pass where it is meant to, but it passes under my private part. I just want to be normal like other boys,” pleads the 10-year-old boy.

His urinary tract was severed close to halfway down his male organ.

The families of the affected boys believe that there is a chance that the medical problems these young children suffer from may never be corrected.

Another child says he is sad that his life might never be the same again.

“I was excited that I would be circumcised, but the procedure did not go according to plan. I am left with an opening under my private part since they also cut parts of my urine pipe. This makes me so sad that I am not like other boys anymore. I just want to be normal again. This makes my heart so sore.”

The child’s father says attempts to get assistance from the Department of Health and to hold the doctor who performed the procedure accountable have been unsuccessful. He is threatening legal action.

“The doctor did not even want to hear anything from us. He did not do any follow-ups upon being informed that the procedure was conducted incorrectly. He was informed that there is a group of boys who are complicated after their medical male circumcision, but he does not take this seriously. Yes, my son’s wound and physical pain have healed, but now he is left with a scar for life and complications. This is affecting him emotionally and mentally. We want justice, so this will not happen to other children.”

A civil society group People Living with HIV in eThekwini is concerned that the alleged negligence might impact the department’s medical male circumcision programme.

KwaZulu-Natal has the highest number of HIV infections and the lowest number of circumcised males.

The organisation’s Zonke Ndlovu says, “Circumcision is good in the fight against HIV. I do not want parents to be scared and not do circumcision. This was an incident, and the department is taking precautions and taking care that the boys are okay. However, we need parents to report such incidents; it is within their own rights to report such incidents and to fight for the kids. The kids can’t fight for themselves; they need the parents to stand up and fight for them.”

Several attempts to get a response from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health regarding these concerns were unsuccessful, despite being given close to a week.