Zero tolerance on ‘initiations’

2012-02-11 13:48

It’s been 11 years since the Human Rights Commission released a report ­condemning initiation practices at South Africa’s universities.

That report was followed seven years later by the damning findings of the Soudien ­Commission, which once again exposed ­inhumane and vicious rituals, this time ­specifically at traditionally Afrikaans-medium institutions.

The death of Thabang Makhoang during a “social event” for first-years at North West University’s Potchefstroom campus three weeks ago and reports of “mock rape” rituals organised by senior boys at a Johannesburg school this week mean little has changed.

In the Soudien Commission’s report, a black student from an Afrikaans-medium ­university asked: “What is hostel culture? Who decides? Whose traditions?”
These are questions we must answer to ­ensure that more South African children and students are not subjected to similar abuse based on outdated and ill-defined “traditions”.

It is not enough for universities to claim that initiation is banned. Institutions must act decisively and must work harder to ­ensure that senior students are given no space to torment others based on some ­misguided sense of power and superiority.

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