Safety plea as initiation season starts

More than 40 000 boys in the Eastern Cape start heading to the mountains and bush as the traditional summer initiation season gets going this weekend.

Parents were called on to get involved and give maximum support to the ritual, which marks the transition from boyhood to manhood.

The message was that the young men had to all return home healthy.

Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders (ECHTL), government departments and other sectors encouraged parents or guardians to always get permission from traditional leaders to have their sons undergo the rite.

Each initiate-candidate had to undergo a medical examination, they said.

Both the Application of Health Standards in Traditional Circumcision Act of 2001, and the Cultural Male Circumcision Bill, passed by the Bhisho Legislature on Tuesday, say only boys who are 18 or older may undergo the rite.

“We expect pilgrimages to traditional initiation schools to start soon after pupils have finished their end-of-year examinations,” ECHTL chairman Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima said.

“Initiates must be given water, and no initiate must be abused or ill-treated.”

  • All districts in the province have active traditional initiation forums encompassing doctors, health practitioners, SAPS members, NGOs and traditional leaders who will visit initiation schools.

There will be police raids and doctors will treat initiates on site;

  • The provincial Department of Health will provide 35 bakkies, and more will come from municipalities and NGOs for monitoring teams;
  • Thousands of bottles of water will be distributed to initiates;

Matanzima said doctors and nurses had been recruited.

SAPS provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga warned they were ready to pounce on those involved in unlawful circumcisions and those who assaulted initiates.

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