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ANC caucus at Bhisho expresses concern over deaths of initiates

Jun 26, 2018
ANC caucus at Bhisho expresses concern over deaths of initiates

The ANC Caucus in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature on Tuesday expressed concern over the reported deaths of initiates in the Libode region since the official opening of the 2018 Winter Initiation Season.

At least seven initiates have died so far - three of them (including two minors) dying on Thursday last week at illegal initiation schools in the Libode area of the Nyandeni Local Municipality.

"We wish to bring the public’s attention to the Eastern Cape Customary Male Initiation Practice 5 of 2016 Act, which, if applied to the latter, will go a long way towards averting unwarranted deaths or injuries," said ANC Chief Whip in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, Fundile Gade.

"The Eastern Cape has been plagued by senseless injuries and deaths of young men whilst undergoing this important rite of passage for far too long.

"These deaths are one too many, and can be avoided when all stakeholders put a concerted effort into the protection of initiates whilst preserving this sacred practice."

Gade said that the ANC Caucus has further noted the mushrooming of illegal initiation schools in the past – a situation which has fuelled the situation of the loss of lives and injuries, as the regulation of these schools has proven to be a challenge.

The ANC Caucus said that it is confident that the measures in the Eastern Cape Customary Male Initiation Practice Act will make decisive impact if implemented to the latter, with provisions such as:

  • 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;
  • No admission into an initiation school can be approved without written admission from parents or guardian of an initiate;
  • The minimum age for a prospective initiate will now be eighteen (18) years;
  • An Ingcibi is to be registered on recommendation by the relevant traditional leader;
  • An Ikhankatha is to be registered and be known in the community; and
  • Both an Ingcibiand Ikhankatha must be reputable people within their communities - this will limit the issue of initiates being initiated by chance-takers whose primary focus is monetary compensation.

"The rigorous application of the Customary Male Initiation Practice Act thus seeks to ensure that this important custom is safe and without deaths, harm or injury. Furthermore, it should assist in ensuring that unscrupulous elements receive the harshest of sentences, which vary from six months to fifteen years," Gade.

"The ANC Caucus calls on the Departments of Health and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to intensify training on the Act, as this will empower communities to curb the commercialisation of male circumcision.

"We urge communities to familiarise themselves with this legislation as the realisation of its objective requires the involvement and participation of families, community members, ward councillors, traditional leaders, community leaders and Government departments."