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Young boys abducted and placed in illegal initiation schools - report

Commission for Gender Equality says abductions of young boys for the purpose of placing them in illegal initiation schools remain rife countrywide. File Picture: Reuters

Commission for Gender Equality says abductions of young boys for the purpose of placing them in illegal initiation schools remain rife countrywide. File Picture: Reuters

Published Aug 11, 2021


Johannesburg - Abductions for the purpose of placing young boys in illegal initiation schools remain rife in parts of the country, including Gauteng.

This has been revealed in a new report by the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE). The study probed the emergence of illegal circumcision schools in Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng and Limpopo.

“These provinces were identified as epicentres for the high prevalence of illegal initiation schools, which are characterised by a series of unlawful activities including the kidnapping and abduction of teenage boys, gangsterism, mutilation, trafficking and a series of other human rights violations,” read the report.

The abduction trend was quite common across the provinces. It included cases of young boys of Ndebele ethnicity being abducted from Gauteng and taken to illegal schools in Mpumalanga, the CGE found.

In the Free State, the trend saw young boys being abducted and taken to illegal schools in Teyateyaneng in Lesotho.

“A cross-border forum has been established comprising key stakeholders from South Africa and Lesotho,” read the report.

“One of its tasks is to deal with and combat the cross-border abduction of children. The co-ordinator of the forum is a member of the SAPS Civilian Secretariat.”

Cross-provincial abductions were also a major problem, revealed the report.

“Abductions across provincial boundaries were a major challenge between Gauteng and other provinces such as the North West, Free State and Mpumalanga.

“Abductions within Gauteng itself were already rife. However, cross-border abductions add another dimension of complexity in that authorities in the province where the abductions took place have no authority to intervene in other provinces, and are thus reliant on collaborations and memoranda of understanding.”

Police in Vanderbijlpark reported facing this problem, as it was common for boys to be kidnapped and relocated to the Free State for illegal initiations.

“The same can be said for the SAPS in Duduza, where descendants of the Ndebele tribe were abducted from Duduza to Balfour in Mpumalanga – roughly 45km away,” read the report.

Intra-provincial kidnappings also took place. The CGE report detailed a case of 15 boys who were abducted from Daveyton, Ekurhuleni, and taken to Mabopane, north-west of Pretoria.

“The most common factor in these abductions appears to be the financial motive, as many commentators agree that the practice has turned into a lucrative operation for many of those involved,” said the report.

Besides kidnappings and abductions, peer pressure was a common problem across the provinces. The recruiters used schoolboys to pressure other boys to attend illegal initiation schools, read the CGE report.

“Such tactics are indiscriminate in their approach, often leading to boys from ethnic and cultural groups (e.g. Nguni boys) who do not subscribe to such cultural practices being forced into initiations, often against their cultural beliefs and practices.”

The Star

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