40 deaths in Eastern Cape initiation season

DECEMBER 22, 2015

As the December 2015 initiation season draws to a close, the Eastern Cape Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) says 40 initiates have died.

“We mourn with the bereaved families during this difficult time in their lives,” said Cogta MEC Fikile Xasa in a statement on Tuesday.

According to the provincial department 15 initiates were killed in the Chris Hani District Municipality, eight in Joe Gqabi, six in Alfred Nzo, six in OR Tambo, four in Amathole and one in the Buffalo City District Municipality.

The MEC said Chris Hani and Joe Gqabi recorded the highest number of deaths due to hot weather conditions there.

“However, our plans have resulted in decreased number of deaths in OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo and zero deaths in Sarah Baartman and Nelson Mandela Metro municipalities.  We will meet early next year to review our initiation monitoring strategy,” said MEC Xasa.

In line with the circular issued by MEC Xasa at the beginning of the season outlining the responsibilities and obligations of traditional leaders to curb deaths, all traditional leaders in areas where deaths have occurred will be expected to provide full account.

MEC Xasa said the number of illegal initiation schools continues to grow with some underage children undergoing the ritual without parental consent.

Many of the initiates died due to dehydration because traditional nurses including family members refuse to give water to initiates.

Other deaths are as a result of assaults and septicaemia.

MEC Xasa said these could have been avoided if there was constant monitoring and immediate referral to hospitals of the sick by parents and amakhankatha (traditional nurses).

The MEC added that without the support from various stakeholders, including traditional initiation forums, traditional leaders and the Departments of Health and Social Development among others, there could have been more deaths.

“Our monitoring teams reached out to more than 10 000 initiates of which in excess of 300 were rescued and sent to hospitals and traditional centres,” said the MEC.

– SAnews.gov.za