Pretoria - The practice of initiation has become open to abuse by people seeing it as an opportunity to make money, the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA said on Friday.

“People charge almost R3000 an initiate, and some of these unscrupulous people are graduates from initiation schools who are unemployed and see an opportunity to make money,” Contralesa president Setlamorago Thobejane told reporters in Pretoria.

“These issues are crippling and are undermining the culture that we are so proud of.”

The organisation launched its plan for dealing with initiations this winter. Thobejane said the campaign was a partnership between Contralesa, the health department, the SA Medical Association, and Codefsa, a non-governmental organisation promoting safe initiation.

“As a measure of intensifying the campaign, Contralesa will mobilise traditional leaders to take full control of initiations under the area of their jurisdiction,” Thobejane said.

The organisation would develop a database of professional medical doctors and traditional initiation nurses who would monitor initiates.

“Working with our partners, we will ensure that no prospective initiates will go to the camp without a thorough medical screening,” Thobejane said.

Initiation has been marred by illegal schools and botched circumcisions resulting in deaths of initiates over the years.

The organisation would conduct road shows before the start of initiation sessions.

“In the same vein, we will also be educating traditional leaders about relevant legislation governing or related to the practice, including contravening such laws in particular,” he said.

The first group of Contralesa leaders would visit all provinces from next week.

Sapa