Johannesburg - Limpopo has crafted a bill that will see illegal circumcision school operators facing either a R20 000 fine or a jail term not exceeding five years.
This comes in the wake of six deaths at illegal circumcision schools operated by Mpumalanga’s King Mabhoko III of the Ndebele and the nation’s Chief PJ Mahlangu of Limpopo.
The 154 illegal schools, with more than 1 000 initiates, operate on the Limpopo side in the Sekhukhune area, near the Mpumalanga boarder.
The current law, the Northern Province Circumcision Act of 2006, makes no mention of a fine.
Although the national director of public prosecutions was yet to decide on charges opened against the two traditional leaders, the Limpopo government said it would not shut them down.
The Limpopo Initiation Schools Bill of 2013 aims to repeal the current act.
The new bill transfers regulatory powers from the premier to the MEC for co-operative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs.
The MEC now has the prerogative to approve applications for operation permits and close down illegal schools.
The bill has reduced from 21 to 18 years the admission age of voluntary initiates.
Operators must first seek parent or legal guardian consent if the initiates, who voluntarily enrol themselves, are under 18.
The bill requires that initiates be certified medically fit by a medical practitioner.
No one under 12 qualifies for admission to a circumcision school and initiation can take place only during school holidays.
The Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders must develop and maintain a register of initiation surgeons. Only surgeons who had attended initiation schools will be granted permits.
The bill reads in part: “The MEC must, as soon as he or she becomes aware that a person has been abducted to an initiation school, order the release of such a person and immediately cause the matter to be reported to the South African Police Service.”
But, unlike the current act, which states that abductors may face up to 10 years’ jail, the new bill makes no mention of punitive measures in relation to this type of coercion.
Permit holders are expected to record the number of deaths and submit them to the MEC, and explain how deaths would be prevented in the future.
“The permit holder is wholly responsible for the initiates,” it said.
MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs Clifford Motsepe said consultations had been done, adding that the bill would soon be presented before the provincial legislature for promulgation.
Hosi Eric Chauke Mudavula, chairman of the initiation schools committee in the Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders, said traditional leaders had given input on the bill.