Johannesburg - Gauteng police have intensified a crackdown on illegal initiation schools following the death of two boys at Crown Mines and Lenasia.
Last week, four young men were found at an illegal initiation school in Crown Mines. The Gauteng Department of Health said the initiates were dehydrated when they were found and in an “unsatisfactory medical condition”.
One initiate, aged 23, died from burns. He was declared dead at the school in Crown Mines and handed over to Forensic Pathology Services. The other three were taken to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, then released into the care of their parents.
Gauteng Human Settlements, Urban Planning and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Lebogang Maile visited the initiates in hospital on Friday.
A 16-year-old boy died at another bogus school in Lenasia. He was from Sebokeng, Emfuleni. The alleged operator of the school was on the run and believed to be hiding on the West Rand.
Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo confirmed that the alleged operator of the bogus school in Crown Mines was arrested last week.
“We have intensified our deployment and we have our crime intelligence on the ground who will identify these initiation schools and check if they are legal or not to prevent further fatalities,” Masondo said.
In 2017, initiation practices were suspended in Gauteng for two years until May this year.
The suspension came after the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) conducted hearings to ascertain the nature and extent of challenges experienced at initiation schools.
The CRL Rights Commission has announced the suspension of initiation activities in four regions in the Eastern Cape following the death of 21 initiates.
Sedibeng Initiation Traditional Surgeons Committee chairperson Solomon Mofokeng told The Star there were about 10 legally registered initiation schools in the Emfuleni Municipality for this year's summer season. However, operations with Cogta found four schools in the area were illegal.
“There have been some changes however, not that much, but it’s a little better because now we registered schools,” Mofokeng said.
During the registration process, parents were required to sign consent forms for their sons and about 104 initiates were registered in the municipality, he said.
“The system is much better now because of the registration process. We now know where we can find initiates from legal schools,” he said.
The Department of Health said it wanted to alert members of the public to the fact that the department offered medical male circumcisions at no charge.
“Our highly skilled health professionals are available to assist if you wish to do medical male circumcisions. We are available and prepared to work with communities to ensure that no lives are lost,”the department said.
About 25 initiates have died nationwide since the summer traditional initiation season started.