Traditional leaders welcome no initiation deaths

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pretoria - Stricter rules at Limpopo's initiation schools has resulted in not one death being reported in the province so far this winter, a fact welcomed by the House of Traditional Leaders.

As part of tradition, every winter groups of young boys head to initiation schools in rural areas to be circumcised and thereby be regarded as men by their communities. However, some illegal schools are run by bogus surgeons resulting in fatalities.

Last year, six boys died at one of the province's legal initiation schools, while 45 were admitted to hospital for dehydration. Five of the initiates who died from an extreme case of diarrhoea, were from the Capricorn District, while the other was from the Vhembe District. He was admitted to a local hospital for vomiting.

This year, however, no deaths have been reported in the 62 initiation schools in the province, according to Deputy Chairperson of the House of Traditional Leaders, Khosi Vho-Vusani Netshimbupfe.

He attributed this to stricter rules being enforced at the schools.

"Our initiation school task team has developed some measures to deal with bogus traditional surgeons. We will not allow botched initiation schools that lead to death or injuries to initiates," he said.

To open an initiation school one has to first submit an application to the House of Traditional Leaders. "We shut down all initiation schools with traditional surgeons who don't follow this procedure. We will never allow our traditional practice to be turned into a money-making scheme," he said.

Netshimbupfe said that the House of Traditional Leaders were happy about the clean record of avoiding unnecessary death in initiation schools, saying it would strive to maintain it "because to us one death is one too many".

However, the number of initiation schools in the province dropped this year compared to last year's 325, perhaps due to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Few weeks before the kick-off, Netshimbupfe announced that for the first time ever in the history of the traditional practice, initiates parents or guardians would be allowed to bring television sets to the initiation schools so that the boys don't miss a single goal of the soccer spectacular.