Pretoria – The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Obed Bapela, has extended his heartfelt condolences to the families of two initiates who died in Mpumalanga.
The initiates passed away in Verena and Witbank. Their deaths follow the launch of the winter initiation season last week, where the Department of Traditional Affairs put emphasis on its Zero Deaths campaign.
“The department and its stakeholders have also created an initiation hotline, where people who witness wrongdoings in the name of initiation will be able to call and report the incidents. The number is 0800 111 166. We also encourage our youth to talk about initiation issues,” said Deputy Minister Bapela.
The Deputy Minister is today in the Eastern Cape to attend the Initiation Imbizo Ngolwaluko, which is being championed by the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders. Motor vehicles for monitoring initiation schools will be handed over.
Deputy Minister Bapela said the country has witnessed the unnecessary loss of life of many initiates in the past year. This prompted an outcry from all stakeholders, including communities and government, to suggest interventions that would end these deaths.
Government and traditional leaders will work hard to make it a point that no more lives are lost. Deputy Minister Bapela urged traditional leaders to get updates on a daily basis regarding the conditions of initiates. He said there should be medical doctors on standby to attend to any situation.
“One challenge is where parents are not willing to open criminal cases of kidnapping of their children. It becomes very sad when the young ones lose their lives or become disfigured because of botched circumcisions,” said Deputy Minister Bapela.
The Deputy Minister commended Cabinet for having approved the Initiation Policy, which will allow for the prosecution of those running illegal initiation schools.
He has called on all stakeholders to play their part in ensuring the safety of the initiates and protecting cultural practices by reporting illegal and bogus initiation schools to the nearest police stations across the country.