Initiation activities in four regions of the Eastern Cape have been suspended for one year until issues with compliance are addressed.
The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) made the announcement at an urgent plenary meeting after Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize revealed on Wednesday that 21 initiates have died since the summer season started this year.
“The CRL Rights Commission unequivocally declares a suspension of the initiation schools and practice for a year in the four affected regions of the Eastern Cape, especially where deaths occurred, until all compliance matters are comprehensively addressed,” said the chairperson of the commission Professor Luka David Mosoma.
Mosoma clarified that the four regions are the schools where any deaths took place and said that should initiation schools not adhere to the call for suspension, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the SAPS must intervene.
He said in the meantime, the initiates still at the centres where deaths occurred must be rescued and removed.
The CRL chairperson underlined that the abuse and commercialization of the traditional practice must be engaged and the fathers, guardians, and uncles of the initiates must avail themselves and accompany their boys during the initiation season.
He added that addressing the criminality at some of the initiation schools must be prioritized.
“We, therefore, implore our communities to refrain from using culture as an instrument of death, because where there is death the community mourns,” he said.
Mosoma highlighted the major concerns of the CRL Right Commission which were the continued kidnapping and abduction of children to illegal initiation schools.
“We appeal and call on all traditional leaders to address the causes of death of initiates in their care at initiation schools countrywide,” he said.