Pretoria – The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Ministry says the end of the 2016 winter initiation season saw commendable improvements.
The winter season ended this past weekend, with parents and communities across the country welcoming back home young men who embarked on the path towards adulthood.
Initiation is critical to young men developing into responsible, community-oriented adults according to their various cultures and traditions.
The department had ahead of the winter season launched a Zero Deaths campaign with all stakeholders in an effort to bring the death of initiates to an end.
Government, during the campaign, called on families, parents and legal guardians to ensure that they are involved in the process of choosing appropriate initiation schools where pre-screening, proper registration is done and the surgeons are qualified and well known by parents.
“This year, we are glad that parents worked in partnership with traditional leaders, government and all stakeholders to ensure a conducive process for a successful initiation season to take place, especially the recognition that children too have rights in line with our constitution,” said Minister van Rooyen.
Although government had this year pulled out all the stops to work with communities and other stakeholders, it is saddened that there are some who did not heed its call.
“We still experienced a number of challenges including psychological readiness, parents not using legal initiation schools, mushrooming of illegal initiation schools, young men not going through the pre-screening process, and young undergoing initiation not drinking water, pre/during and post initiation process,” said the department.
A team had during the winter initiation season worked on issues of initiation and the team will continue into the summer initiation season. This team worked with the national task team in monitoring initiation activities in different areas across the country to help curb the high number of deaths last year.
Last year’s winter season recorded 44 deaths while the summer season recorded 57 deaths.
“As government we are saddened that even with all the measures we employed to ensure a safe initiation season, the country recorded the death of 27 initiates [in 2016],” said the department.
The Eastern Cape reported the highest number of deaths of initiates this past winter season, with 18 initiates dead.
The North West province reported three deaths, while Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng reported two deaths each.
The Ministry expressed sadness on the matter and has sent its condolences to the families and friends of those who passed away.
“Government has however noted that the year 2016, has seen a significant decline of the death of initiates. This is commendable as it speaks to the effectiveness of the interventions that we have put in place to address these challenge,” said the department.
It further encouraged all to stand up against deaths of initiates.