Government reiterates support for safe initiation

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Pretoria – Government says it will continue to support communities to practice their own cultures and traditions, including initiation, in a secure environment.

This comes after the 2016 winter initiation season saw more young men losing their lives, despite government's interventions to prevent this.

In pursuit of the “Zero Deaths” campaign during initiation seasons, parents are urged to ensure that their children are medically prepared, schools duly registered, and the traditional surgeons and caregivers are adequately prepared to avert these tragic fatalities.

Government and all the stakeholders -- national, provincial and local government, non-government organisations, Amakhosi and communities -- have been working tirelessly to ensure the safety of initiates and to fight the scourge of deaths, abuse and assaults of initiates.

The Department of Traditional Affairs drafted a policy on the customary practice of initiation which aims to provide acceptable norms and standards, protect initiates from death, injury and to ensure role players accept responsibility.

“We are pleading with all stakeholders to ensure that all the enrolled initiates return home alive in this season. Let’s get involved to sustain the slogan – ‘Zero tolerance to initiation deaths’.

“The message should be clear: those who use this important cultural practice of our people to enrich themselves have no place in our communities. Let us all alert the authorities about bogus initiation schools and those that abduct our children, thus disgracing this important part of our tradition.

“We don’t believe that it is all doom and gloom, as it is sometimes reported. We, however, regret the loss of life in this summer initiation season. Thus far, the Eastern Cape has recorded the highest number of deaths and all stakeholders are working tirelessly with all role-players to curb this challenge,” the department said in a statement.

Deaths at initiation schools were reported as follows: Eastern Cape - 17 deaths; Northern Cape - one death and four amputations; North West - one death and Western Cape - one death.

The department commends all stakeholders on the ground who are working tirelessly in a coordinated manner to identify challenges and rescue those in distress.

On 12 December 2016, 22 female initiates were rescued from illegal initiation schools at De Deur and Evaton in Sedibeng.

The teams will continue to monitor the situation across the country throughout the current initiation season.

“We are urging communities, especially parents, care givers or legal guardians to play their part and support our zero deaths approach during this initiation season. Enough is enough,” the department said. –

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