Stricter laws to curb deaths of young initiates
The North West and Limpopo provincial departments have issued initiation school regulations to ensure that initiates don’t miss school while undergoing traditional circumcision.
The Limpopo Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs has gazetted the Limpopo Initiation Schools Bill, 2014 for public comment, and interested parties have until April 10 to give their input.
Among the rules that are proposed is that no child under the age of 12 can go to an initiation school for circumcision.
Children above 12 and below 18 years old need written consent from their parents or guardian, and a medical certificate issued by a medical practitioner “certifying that such initiate is medically fit to undergo the circumcision procedure”.
Males aged 18 and above need not have parental consent.
The proposed bill further states: “Only a person who has graduated from an initiation school or a person registered in the prescribed manner as a circumcision surgeon in the register of surgeons may perform initiation rituals and circumcise an initiate.”
“The Limpopo Provincial House of Traditional Leaders must establish and maintain a register of circumcision surgeons in the prescribed manner. The permit holder is responsible for the care, safety and wellbeing of initiates.”
In North West, people who run initiations schools are also required to have a permit.
The province’s Regulation of Initiation Schools, which came into effect recently, state: “The principal of the school must keep an updated attendance register of all initiates and keep a copy of the approved application form in his possession.”
According to the regulations, no initiation school may operate within a 5km radius of a housing settlement.
The regulations further state that no alcohol or any form of drugs or intoxicating substances are allowed in the initiation school and no “visibly intoxicated” person is allowed in the school and/or to handle the initiates.
Last year, several provinces including the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, had a high number of circumcision-related deaths.