Illegal initiation schools shut in North West clampdown

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Over 100 initiates were rescued when the North West Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) closed 17 illegal initiation schools throughout the province.

According to the provincial department, this was made possible through collaboration with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committee (PICC). 

“The shutting down of the schools follows the extensive oversight visits conducted by the PICC across the province, to clamp down on illegal initiation schools since the beginning of the 2024 winter initiation season in line with Section 15 of the Customary Initiation Act No 2 of 2021 (CIA),” the provincial department explained. 

The committee was monitoring compliance in terms of Sections 20, 21, 23 and 24 of the CIA, verifying the qualifications and credentials of initiation school practitioners, principals, caretakers and traditional surgeons. 

“They also inspected the facilities and resources to ensure they meet minimum standards as per Section 30 of the CIA.” 

These operations, the department said, have ensured the safety and health of numerous young initiates.

“The PICC has opened cases at various police stations and the school principals were arrested.” 

PICC Chairperson Kgosi Godfrey Ramosetlho Gasebone has expressed concern over the non-compliance of the initiation school principals which resulted in the increase of illegal schools and the deaths of two initiates. 

Kgosi Gasebone believes the proliferation of illegal initiations is driven by money and greed by individuals who want to extort money from the parents of initiates.

“During our capacity building session which occurred in April 2024, the PICC…[did] its best to engage the school principals across the province about the new customary initiation law and to follow it before establishing the initiations school. This was done to prevent the emergence of illegal initiation schools.

“We are happy that the school principals have been arrested and they will face the full might of the law. We will continue to work with the police to clamp down on these illegal acts until everyone follows the dictates of the CIA,” Kgosi Gasebone added.  

He has also condemned the recent attack on the PICC Deputy Chairperson Andries Stemmer’s son by those running illegal initiation schools. 

“This incident occurred following a community tip-off about illegal initiation schools in Lichtenburg and Coligny, where 13 initiates were found.” 

Other initiatives were rescued from schools in Moretele, Motla, Makapanstad, Kromkuil, Klipgat, Kgabalatsane, Hebron, Letlhabile, Tigane, Goedgevonden, Mahikeng, Mareetsane, Coligny, Boikhutso, Makouspan and Madibogo which were shut down. 

“The rescued initiates were taken to neighbouring clinics and hospitals for further check-ups and assistance.” 

Gasebone maintains that no initiation school will exist without following the prescripts of the CIA, which amongst others included medical check-ups of initiates and acquiring consent from parents of initiates. 

“What is happening is totally unacceptable. It is illegal and shows no regard for life. We appeal to communities to help the department and PICC stops these criminals who abduct schoolboys and initiate them without the knowledge and consent of their parents. The two deaths would have been avoidable,” said Gasebone.
Kgosi Gasebone has encouraged those who have been following the Customary Initiation Act to continue to do so and preserve this important tradition. –