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MEC Xasa calls for stricter registration of initiates as deaths increase

Jul 7, 2016
MEC Xasa calls for stricter registration of initiates as deaths increase

The Eastern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Fikile Xasa, has called for all stakeholders to work together to guarantee that young men and boys are properly registered for initiation.

The MEC on Wednesday visited initiation schools in Mbizana. He said the improper registration of boys led to the manipulation of the entire process by dishonest traditional surgeons and nurses, hence the mushrooming of illegal initiation schools.

MEC Xasa said pre-medical examination is key to saving lives, especially of young boys with health challenges, including asthma and other ailments.

“The work of our monitoring teams is commendable. However, we remain concerned about the number of deaths in the province. Community structures ought to be active and assist members of the forums pre- and during the initiation seasons,” said MEC Xasa.

MEC Xasa said the circumcision of underage boys was unacceptable. He said the acquittal of suspects facing charges of unlawful circumcision by courts of law is receiving the department’s attention.

“Our government takes the initiation practice seriously, hence our monitoring visits to flashpoints,” he said.

MEC Xasa encouraged all key stakeholders to account for their roles in the initiation process including government, traditional leaders and parents to save lives and restore the dignity of the tradition.

Initiation is a major and sacred stage in the African culture, which sees the transition from child to adulthood.

However, the death toll of initiates is steadily climbing in the Eastern Cape since the start of this year's Winter initiation season about two weeks ago.

So far 10 initiates have died, over 100 rescued and 15 initiation schools closed.

Most of the initiation problems are occurring in districts, including Tsolo, Libode, Ngqeleni and Bizana in the Eastern part of the province. 

Initiation monitors say pneumonia, dehydration and assault are the leading causes of fatalities.