Pretoria – A new radical national policy that aims to curb initiation deaths and act harshly against illegal initiation schools has been approved by Cabinet.
Following its recent meeting, Cabinet has given the Department of Traditional Affairs the nod to commence drafting national legislation on initiation using the draft Policy on the Customary Practice of Initiation in South Africa.
The policy, which applies to both males and females, encourages acceptable practices so as to avoid any negative effects on initiates and forms part of steps that government is taking to reinforce appropriate and acceptable customs and practices in order to restore accountability in the practice of initiation.
There have been concerns over the rising death toll at initiation schools, with provinces such as the Eastern Cape and Limpopo being the hardest hit by the problem. One of the areas that concern government and traditional leaders has been around abuse and assault of initiates as well as the rising number of unregistered traditional surgeons.
The policy has been designed to tackle how the country preserves the initiation custom while eliminating challenges such the reported abuse of children at initiation schools.
Govrenment believes converting the policy into a Bill would result in consequences for those who continue to violate the processes that are in place.
According to media reports, more than 400 000 boys have undergone the traditional rite of passage in the Eastern Cape from June 2006 to December 2014. A total of 532 initiates have died, 233 had penile amputations and 5 586 were admitted to hospital. Only 257 people have been arrested.