Durban – Eight initiates have died this winter season in the Eastern Cape.
It was according to the National Assembly committee on co-operative governance and traditional affairs who conducted an oversight visit at two initiation schools in the OR Tambo District Municipality.
The committee was informed that there were 66 confirmed legal initiation schools and 68 illegal initiation schools in the OR Tambo District.
“The committee was also informed that the closure of illegal initiation schools was complicated by the fact that there are no hospital beds available for the initiates that are rescued from these illegal schools and that the erstwhile rescue centres are no longer operational due to the Covid-19 pandemic and depletion of resources,” said Committee chairperson, Fikile Xasa.
He said they were briefed on the challenges in the Port St John’s Local Municipality, Ngquza Hill Local Municipality, King Sabatha Dalindyebo (KSD) Local Municipality, Nyandeni Local Municipality and Mhlontlo Local Municipality.
Xasa said the National Initiation Oversight Committee established by the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the Eastern Cape Provincial Initiation Co-ordinating Committee formed part of the team that is accompanying the committee on these oversight visits.
“The committee was informed of the unfortunate deaths of eight initiates in the Eastern Cape since the start of the season which started on June 17.
“These deaths are in the KSD Local Municipality and Mhlontlo Local Municipality.
“The committee will be visiting the KSD municipality tomorrow as part of its oversight programme.
“The committee will be provided with additional information on the cause of these deaths,” Xasa said.
He said the Customary Initiation Act is clear on what action needs to be taken against illegal schools.
“They have to be closed down and the committee expects traditional surgeons and nurses who are part of these illegal schools to be arrested and charged.
“The committee is clear that law enforcement agencies should not tolerate any lawless behaviour from communities that protect illegal traditional surgeons and nurses.
“Additionally, the police informed the committee that they have made eight arrests and opened 21 cases for the current season," Xasa said.
The committee further commended the Matatiele in the Alfred Nzo District Municipality on their decision not to open any initiation schools this winter season due to poor weather conditions.