Family fears missing Northern Cape teen has been ‘abducted’ by initiation school
WHILE there is a prohibition on the operation of initiation schools in eight of the nine provinces in the country during the lockdown, a family in Jan Kempdorp in the Northern Cape is frantically searching for their 13-year-old son, who they allege was abducted and taken to an initiation school.
According to Nkosinathi Masilika, his teenage brother was “snatched” along with several other boys by the owners of an initiation school on Saturday.
Masilika said they had tried to lay a charge of kidnapping with the local police but had received “little assistance” in the matter.
“We heard from people in the area that my brother and some other boys were taken to initiation school. We were shocked because it is not part of our tradition to send boys to initiation schools. We went to the local police station and reported the incident. We explained that we did not know to which initiation school my brother was taken and that we wanted him back home. We never gave permission for those persons to take my brother and they never even came to inform us where they were taking him,” Masilika said on Tuesday.
He said that they were referred to the police in Hartswater.
“My mother went to the Hartswater police on Monday, December 7. She took a picture of my brother with her so that she can report my brother missing. The Hartswater police went to search for my brother in Magogong and Pampierstad. They were not able to find him and told her to come back the next morning.”
Masilika said that they were, however, sent home without any answers when they returned to the police on Tuesday morning.
“My mother went back to the Hartswater police station at about 8am. They dropped her at home again at 11am without having opened a case or giving any indication on the way forward.”
He said their only wish is for their brother to return home safely.
“We never told those people to take my brother to the initiation school. Those people from the initiation schools usually want payment when they return the boys back home. It is unfair and illegal … many children are abducted in this manner. We would be required to pay about R2,000 when my brother is returned. We do not have that money as my mother is a pensioner and I have no income. These ‘abductions’ are criminal offences.”
Masilika believed that because the “victims” are boys, the matter is not taken seriously.
“If an adult man takes a girl child without the permission of her parents then a criminal investigation is launched. How come the same rules do not apply for boys? My brother has been gone for days and is being kept somewhere with grown men … How can we sit back and not be bothered?” asked Masilika.
The secretary of the Northern Cape Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, Peter Toto, warned that initiation schools are prohibited from operating during the lockdown.
“Due to Covid-19 the government has announced that all initiation schools are prohibited from operating. If any initiation school in the Northern Cape is currently operating, they will have to close down. There was only an exception made for the Eastern Cape. The abduction of young children who are forced to go to initiation schools is unlawful and we are working together with the police to stop such incidents,” said Toto.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Mohlae Ramatseba said a missing persons case is being investigated.
“The Jan Kempdorp police are searching for a 13-year-old boy who went missing in the area over the weekend. Several possible initiation venues were visited in the area as well as in the North West on December 8, 2020, but to no avail. The police are continuing the search and request community members with any information relating to the matter to contact their nearest police station,” said Ramatseba.
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