Deaths in bogus initiation schools

Two deaths have been reported, one in a village in the Port St Johns area.

Two deaths have been reported, one in a village in the Port St Johns area.

Published Jun 18, 2024


The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) says a traditional surgeon and two traditional nurses have been apprehended in connection with the death of one of two initiates in the Eastern Cape.

This comes as the winter initiation season officially kicked off last month, which Contralesa had said was off to a good start until the latest incidents, allegedly involving bogus initiation schools.

Contralesa secretary-general Zolani Mkiva said: “Two deaths have been reported, one in a village in the Port St Johns area. He (the initiate) was dehydrated by the time they took him to the health facility, he was already struggling to breathe, so he died.

“Three arrests have already been made. The traditional surgeon as well as two traditional nurses have been apprehended with the help of traditional leaders in that area.

“(In) the other incident in a village outside Mthatha, the initiate also died at another bogus school. These schools do as they wish, there are no rules. They operate human trafficking because they abduct the children then demand money from their families.”

He said they had been on high alert since the start of the season and did a lot to prepare.

“The issue is it requires police to be on the ground in villages, it is not easy because the areas are vast and far apart. Also, they use hidden areas that are difficult to access,” Mkiva added.

Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality Initiation Forum (BCMMIF) also visited a family in Mzamomhle at the weekend following the death of a young man at an initiation school last Thursday.

Addressing the family together with the community, chairperson of the BCMMIF, chief Gwazinamba Mathanzima, said that all men in communities had a responsibility to safeguard this practice.

“You should not allow any young boys who are not accompanied by parents into your initiation schools.

You should also monitor their state of mind when they come to you asking to be your initiates,” he said.

He added that Mzamomhle has over 24 initiates currently and almost all of them do not have documents that permit them to be initiated.

With initiation season opened, the forum said it would continue visiting schools and monitoring the well-being of initiates.

Eastern Cape police did not respond to requests for comment by deadline on Monday.

Cape Times