ANC in Bhisho welcomes passing of Traditional Initiation Bill, wants it signed into law soonest

NOVEMBER 24, 2016

The ANC Caucus in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature on Thursday said that it welcomes the passing of the Eastern Cape Customary Male Initiation Practice Bill of 2015 and urged Eastern Cape Premier, Phumulo Masualle, to sign it into law "as soon as possible". The Bill was passed on Tuesday.

"For the Eastern Cape to strengthen the regulation of customary male initiation in the Province and to curb senseless injuries and deaths of initiates, this piece of legislation will go a long way towards providing for matters connected therewith," said ANC Chief Whip in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, Mzoleli Mrara.    

"This bill is responsive to the plea of Eastern Cape citizenry which calls for this important custom to be safe and without deaths, harm or injury. It makes strides in ensuring that this custom is not allowed to be made a profit-making scheme, and that unscrupulous elements receive harshest sentences."

The ANC Caucus is confident that the Eastern Cape Customary Male Initiation Bill, once gazetted into law, will make a meaningful impact towards among other things realising the following:

  • Recognition that initiation is a custom – a condition which thus places the custodians of the customs of traditional communities (traditional leaders) at the centre of the provincial, regional and local initiation committees.
  • All relevant Departments will form part of initiation committees chaired by the relevant traditional leaders.
  • The minimum age for a prospective initiate will now be eighteen (18) years
  • An Ingcibi will have to be registered on recommendation by the relevant traditional leader and must be experienced in the practice.
  • An Ikhankatha must also be registered and be known in the community.
  • Both an Ingcibi and Ikhankatha must be reputable people within their communities - this will limit the issue of initiates being initiated by chance takers who are after money.

"Furthermore, on providing for the protection of life, the prevention of injuries and the prevention of physical and mental abuse of initiates, the denial of access of a male relative to see an initiate or an initiation working committee being denied access to an initiation school will now be a punishable offence," said Mrara.

"This is raised in a context where it has been the case that some initiates, who have lost their lives were harmed when both their families and the traditional leadership were not aware that they are in a dire situation.

"Of equal importance is that this piece of legislation on its own cannot be a panacea to for all challenges engulfing the custom of male initiation."

He said as stated by the Chief Whip, the legislation does not take away but affirms the authority of custodians of the custom which are the traditional leaders working with communities. 

"If families and communities are vigilant and take full responsibility for passage to manhood for their children, no initiate should die or be injured," Mrara added.

"The objectives of the Bill can only be achieved if each and every stakeholder and persons in the community performs their role diligently.

The collective functions espoused by the Bill fall within 'Masiphathisane' initiative as championed by the Premier Masualle.

"We echo the sentiments relayed by MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs that this requires involvement of the family and participation of community members, ward councillors, traditional leaders, community leaders, municipalities and relevant government departments," Mrara said.