Botched circumcisions will lead to investigations and imprisonment

By Drum Digital
15 February 2017

Investigations into botched circumcisions will be launched and can result in fines or imprisonment.

At a briefing held in Johannesburg on Wednesday, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistics Communities (CRL Commission) said it will be launching investigations into initiation schools because of reports and complaints received due to death, botched circumcision, amputations and assaults.

As a cultural norm, many young men will embark on the age-old custom of attending initiation schools and undergoing traditional circumcision this year. What inevitably follows, are reports highlighting the increasing number of deaths of young initiates.

“The problem needs to solved urgently, we cannot keep quiet about what is happening any longer,” said Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, chairperson of the Commission.

She said the commission’s main concern is the statistical records that show that a total of 251 deaths have occurred between 2014-2016.

“These are unnecessary deaths that could have been prevented,” she said. “These are young men who are strong and fit and end up dead, not because they are sick.”

The commission says the number of deaths that have occurred over the years are an anomaly (irregular) as initiations take place for only eight weeks per year in the winter and summer seasons.

Another major concern is that in the space of nine years, 557 young men have died, but only 260 arrests have been made – none of which have resulted in jail time.

“We are investigating why this is,” said Mkhwanazi-Xaluva. “Just because you are operating an initiation school does not mean the law must be suspended, we must determine who is accountable.”

The CRL Commission is a Chapter 9 Institution which reserves the right to issue out a summons to those violating laws pertaining to culture and religion, and host public hearings,  after which a fine or imprisonment can be issued.

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