Winter initiation season records 8 deaths in EC

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Eight initiates have died in the Eastern Cape since the beginning of traditional male circumcision season on 17 June 2022.

The development was this week confirmed by the Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) during an oversight visit to two initiation schools in Port St John’s, which is part of the OR Tambo District Municipality.

The committee was briefed about initiation challenges in Port St John’s Local Municipality, Ngquza Hill Local Municipality, King Sabatha Dalindyebo (KSD) Local Municipality, Nyandeni Local Municipality and Mhlontlo Local Municipality.

The National Initiation Oversight Committee, established by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the Eastern Cape Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committee, formed part of the team that is accompanying the committee on the oversight visits.

Committee chairperson Fikile Xasa said the deaths occured in the KSD Local Municipality and Mhlontlo Local Municipality.

“The committee will be visiting the KSD municipality tomorrow as part of its oversight programme. The committee will be provided with additional information on the cause of these deaths,” he said.

Furthermore, he said, the committee was informed that there were 66 confirmed legal initiation schools and 68 illegal initiation schools in the OR Tambo District.

“The committee was also informed that the closure of illegal initiation schools was complicated by the fact that there are no hospital beds available for the initiates that are rescued from these illegal schools and that the erstwhile rescue centres are no longer operational due to the COVID-19 pandemic and depletion of resources.”

The Customary Initiation Act, he added, is clear on what action needs to be taken against illegal schools and they need to be closed down.

“The committee expects traditional surgeons and nurses who are part of these illegal schools to be arrested and charged.

“The committee is clear that law enforcement agencies should not tolerate any lawless behaviour from communities that protect illegal traditional surgeons and nurses. Additionally, the police informed the committee that they have made 8 arrests and opened 21 cases for the current season,” he said.

The committee commended the decision taken by Matatiele in the Alfred Nzo District Municipality not to open any initiation schools this winter season due to poor weather conditions.

The committee will today meet with local houses/traditional councils in KSD and visit initiation schools in Mthatha. –