Zuma wants initiations to be re-examined

2013-05-23 17:00
President Jacob Zuma (Picture: Sapa)

President Jacob Zuma (Picture: Sapa)

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Cape Town - The deaths of young initiates following circumcision ceremonies cannot be tolerated, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.

"As we speak, our children are being killed by old people during the circumcision rituals... that are part of the tradition of initiation of young boys into manhood," he told members of the National House of Traditional Leaders.

Mpumalanga health department announced on Thursday that the number of boys, who died at initiation schools in the province, has risen to 30.

Zuma appealed to traditional leaders to re-examine the way such initiations were done.

"Hundreds of thousands of our children in this country, and millions around the world, undergo safe circumcision rituals every year.

"Our government actually runs programmes of circumcision as part of the campaign against HIV/Aids. There is, therefore, no reason to tolerate that incompetent individuals continue in the manner in which they have been continuing."

Traditional leaders should work with the government and treat "rogue" initiation schools as criminal activities, and deal with them accordingly.

"We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the relatives and friends of the young initiates that have lost their lives over the last few weeks. No stone must be left unturned in measures to punish those responsible."

Tradition

He warned that such deaths jeopardised the future of the custom.

"The problem is, if we don't do it right - this important traditional ritual - you are inviting unnecessary criticisms and condemnation of what is an important event in the life of a person who is growing up.

"It is a responsibility of the traditional leaders to work very hard to ensure that this is done without any incident. People should not do short cuts; nor should they drink first before they go there, so that they cause accidents."

It was a matter that needed to be taken very seriously, to prevent unnecessary deaths.

"It can't be a yearly occurrence... or it will be said there is something wrong with this custom," Zuma said.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  mbombela  |  culture

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