Parliamentary committee to conduct oversight visit to initiation schools

Monday, July 4, 2022

The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) will this week conduct an oversight visit to various initiation schools in the Eastern Cape Province.

The Eastern Cape winter customary initiation season started on 17 June 2022, when approximately 40 000 initiates were expected to undergo the ritual.

Over the years, the customary initiation practice in the province has become synonymous with the deaths of young boys. During the December 2021 summer initiation season, 40 young boys died.

Possible deaths during the current winter season are therefore of concern and, consequently, there is a need for the Portfolio Committee to assess the measures put in place to prevent these deaths.

Government has recently passed the Customary Initiation Act (2021), which became effective on 1 September 2021.

The Act provides for the establishment of a National Initiation Oversight Committee, which the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs gazetted on 22 October 2021.

This is an eleven-member committee that expected to, among other things, monitor the implementation of the Act and promote compliance with its provisions by all role players involved in initiation practices and initiation schools.

The Customary Initiation Act also provides for the establishment of Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committees (PICC).

The Eastern Cape province is also expected to establish a committee, which the Premier must publish by notice in the Provincial Gazette.

The indication, as specified in the presentation by the National Initiation Oversight Committee, is that the Eastern Cape’s PICC was established before the enactment of the Customary Initiation Act, in terms of a provincial ordinance.

As the custodian of the Customary Initiation Act, the Portfolio Committee has a duty to conduct oversight over its implementation, and hold to account all the role-players involved for their respective responsibilities, duties, roles and functions.

During the oversight, the committee will hold meetings with the relevant provincial and national government structures to establish the extent to which the initiation oversight structures provided in the Customary Initiation Act are established and functional.

The committee will also assess the practical measures in place to prevent the death of initiates, including undertaking a physical verification of these measures.

The committee will also convene meetings with the traditional leaders who have overall responsibility for initiation practices taking place within their areas of jurisdiction, to establish the measures they have undertaken to promote good and safe practices, with specific emphasis on the protection of the lives, health and safety of initiates. –

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