Young initiates are escorted to their homes in Orange Farm township after spending several weeks at an initiation school. A small group of graduates were welcomed by their families and friends. Picture: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - After a clampdown on initiation schools in Gauteng after the Commission for the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) banned all initiation-related activities across the province until December 2018, initiates have been forced to go to other provinces.

The CRL took a decision last year to implement the ban, citing the mushrooming of illegal initiation schools where families complained that they were forced to pay exorbitant amounts of money after their children had been kidnapped and taken away without their consent.

Former initiates in Sebokeng in the Vaal area said this year they would move to the Free State to carry on their practices.

They, however, indicated they were in support of the move and even called on the government to shut down initiation schools in the province permanently.

Tieho Mofokeng, who was initiated in 2014, said Gauteng initiations were no longer performing the cultural deeds, adding that there had been a lot of killings among initiates.

“This will be good so the next group (of initiates) can go to Free State and learn more about culture. Initiations in Gauteng have long been dead. What I like about the Free State is that many are still upholding culture while here (Gauteng) initiation is about killing each other. Those who finished a year ago would be given a chance to run a school.

“I support the idea to get rid of initiations in Gauteng because it was getting dangerous, as you saw some of the former initiates carry guns and pangas to threaten others,” said the 22-year-old.

Another initiate, Paballo Mothakane, 20, agreed, adding that he had undergone the passage to manhood in the Free State the previous year.

He said he would be taking his siblings there and would never allow family members to be initiated in Gauteng.

“This year my two brothers want to go and I’m going to take them to the Free State, where I was initiated. Even if we were allowed to have an initiation school in Gauteng, I would take them to the Free State. Here in Gauteng people are robbing and killing each other at the mountain,” said Mothakane.

The decision by the CRL has also forced the City of Tshwane to reject applications for the establishment of initiation schools in the area.

Member of the mayoral committee for health councillor Sakkie du Plooy said the move was aimed at addressing concerns around criminality, gross malpractices and unfavourable habitual conditions that have crept into the age-old traditional ritual.

Du Plooy said other issues included the mushrooming of unregistered initiation schools, violence, murders and assaults, abductions, extortion, illegal occupation of land, initiation schools that have turned into a haven for criminals and non-compliance with some municipal by-laws.

“Although Tshwane was found to be fairly in order and having an effective initiation school by-law, the commission has taken an all-inclusive decision to suspend all schools in Gauteng and to set regulations that prioritise safety and ensure compliance which must be met by December 2018. Pursuant to the resolution, the City of Tshwane fully supports and commits to abide by the resolution as issued by the CRL.

“Subsequently, the City of Tshwane will not process any application nor will it issue any certificate for the operation of male and female initiation schools in 2018.

“Any initiation school found to be operating within the jurisdiction of the city should be deemed illegal and law enforcement processes will take their course,” he said.

Sunday Independent