Initiation deaths: 2 months, 0 arrests

2013-08-02 17:19

It’s two months later and no one has been arrested for the deaths of initiates in Mpumalanga.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said some dockets had been submitted to them but they were returned for further investigation.

NPA spokesperson Medupe Simasiku said the dockets were receiving “focused attention” from their prosecutors and that the NPA noted the number of deaths with concern.

“It is of course the duty of the (police) and not that of the NPA to investigate suspected criminal matters and to effect such arrests where there is a suspected perpetrator,” Simasiku said.

“We have obtained information on quite a number of matters that are still under investigation. However, no arrests have been made up to so far in all of them. Some of the dockets were submitted to prosecution by (the police) for perusal and direction and they were all sent back for further investigations,” he added.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Colonel Leonard Hlathi could only say that the police were not investigating any other cases above the 30 – 28 are murders while two are inquest dockets.

Hlathi declined to indicate how many of the 30 dockets had been submitted to the NPA for a decision.

“We can’t comment about dockets that are being handled by the NPA,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Mpumalanga department of health is refusing to shed light on the number of boys who had been admitted to hospital while undergoing initiation or to specify the reason for their admissions.

The department has been reluctant to give a clear picture of the extent of the problem that arose in the initiation schools in the province during the initiation season in May – where thousands of Ndebele boys underwent the passage-to-manhood ritual that involves circumcision.

Thirty boys, according to the department and provincial police, died during the season from haemorrhage, hypothermia and unnatural causes. Many others were admitted to hospitals, particularly in KwaMhlanga, for various complications.

Provincial health spokesperson Ronnie Masilela said: “If we reveal why the initiates ended up in hospital, we will be creating unnecessary perceptions within the communities. The department, of course, treated many of them in the schools and hospitals.”

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