ANC Caucus say yes to timely passing of Initiation Bill

2016-11-30 06:00

THE passing of the Eastern Cape Customary Male Initiation Practice Bill last Tuesday (November 22) has been hailed as a move in the right direction by the ANC Caucus in the Provincial Legislature.

Welcoming the timely passing of the 2015 Bill as we approach the December school vacation, Head of the ANC Caucus: Support Services in the Legislature, Mawethu Rune, said this marks a paradigm shift as it would strengthen the regulation of customary male initiation in the Province while putting at the core, families, communities and traditional leaders who are the custodians of the custom.

The high death rate of initiates and some losing their manhood, especially in the OR Tambo Region and former Pondoland is of great concern.

Rune hailed the broad consultation before the passing of the Bill, adding that it was now incumbent upon the EC Premier, Phumulo Masualle, to speedily sign it into law.

“This age-old custom of circumcision should be practised freely but without any harm,” said Rune.

He said, “Nobody should lose their manhood or life because of the traditional rite to manhood. We believe it is important that measures were taken to ensure that this custom is not allowed to be turned into a profit-making scheme, and that unscrupulous elements (from within) receive harshest sentences.”

Rune highlighted the following changes :

• Recognition that initiation is a custom – a condition which thus places the custodians of the customs of traditional communities (traditional leaders) at the centre of the provincial, regional and local initiation committees.

• All relevant Departments will form part of initiation committees chaired by the relevant traditional leaders.

• The minimum age for a prospective initiate will now be eighteen (18) years.

• An Ingcibi (Traditional surgeon) will have to be registered on recommendation by the relevant traditional leader and must be experienced in the practice.

• An Ikhankatha (Traditional Nurse) must also be registered and be known in the community.

• Both an Ingcibi and Ikhankatha must be reputable people within their communities - this will limit the issue of initiates being initiated by chance takers who are after money.

Rune stated, however, that this piece of legislation cannot, on its own be a panacea for all challenges engulfing the custom of male initiation.

Agreeing with Chief Whip Mzoleli Mrara, he said legislation only affirms the authority of the custodians of the custom which are the traditional leaders working with communities.

He said, “If families and communities are vigilant and take full responsibility for the passage to manhood of their children, no initiate should die or be injured.”

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