DESPITE a significant decrease in the number of initiate deaths, Eastern Cape authorities said they would not celebrate until a zero death target had been achieved.
This time last year 31 initiates were reported dead, while as of yesterday 18 initiates had died in the province.
Local Government and Traditional Affairs spokesman Mamnkeli Ngam said despite the decrease, the government was still concerned. “There is no way that we can compare this year to last year. We want to make sure that not a single initiates dies in the bush.
“The decrease does not say we must celebrate,” Ngam said.
In the OR Tambo region five deaths have been reported, in the Alfred Nzo region there were four, in Chris Hani there were four, Buffalo City Metro recorded two and Joe Gqabi, Amathole and Nelson Mandela Metro reported one each.
Ngam said in next year’s winter season in June they expected no deaths.
“It is possible. These initiates are staying in their huts with people, elderly people who monitor them, or are supposed to monitor them. If they see that the initiate is not well, they should seek help immediately.”
Ngam said he wanted it to become more widely known that initiates had to be given water.
Efforts to save lives were stepped up after more than 80 deaths were reported in the last two seasons. Most of these were in the Pondoland region.
The Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders attributed this season’s decrease to inter-governmental relations. Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima said: “The relationships between the departments has made a great difference.”
He said crime and “inhumane” behaviour was one of the causes of initiate deaths. Traditional leaders should monitor initiates in their areas. – Bongani Fuzile