'Mountain schools for male circumcision have turned into killing fields'
Bisho - Twelve young lives were lost in illegal initiation schools in the Eastern Cape, premier Oscar Mabuyane said while delivering his State of the Province Address in Bhisho Legislature on Friday.
Mabuyane said men have failed the sacred custom of male circumcision and turned it into a health matter.
"We must declare that from now onward, we will work more than we have done before to ensure that no other family buries a child who undergoes our sacred custom," he said.
"As government, we commit to work closely with traditional leadership and ensure that the practice is closely monitored. Furthermore, we are going to appoint a Provincial Coordinator to coordinate all our programmes not only during the circumcision seasons but throughout the year".
"We condemn this reckless behaviour and we wish to take this opportunity to convey our message of condolences to families that have lost their children," he said.
Education activist Hendrick Makaneta called on parliament to come up with legislation that will make it extremely difficult for young men to lose their lives in initiation schools as a result of untrained traditional surgeons, some of whom operate illegally.
“We are concerned about the untimely deaths of young men in the mountain schools. It seems the tradition which was meant to raise responsible men has now degenerated into killing fields where there is no more guarantee that the men will come back home alive,” Makaneta said.
“Most of the mountain schools lack discipline. Some, if not most of the owners of the schools, come from poverty-stricken backgrounds hence their interest is making more money at the expense of innocent lives. They admit more boys than they can handle,” Makaneta added.
He said it is the duty of government to ensure that the human rights are protected at all times including the right to life.
He said Parliament should come up with laws that will hold traditional surgeons accountable. "For instance, no school should operate without well trained surgeons who will perform the circumcision and the rest of the mountain activities can be done as usual."
“Parliament should adopt laws that are able to define the standard of behaviour expected of and required from all the stakeholders in initiation schools to ensure that healthy working relationships are created between surgeons and initiates.”