The Eastern Cape has recorded the lowest number of initiate deaths

By Faeza
25 July 2017

Only 11 initiates were reported to have died this season compared with 26 last year.


The Eastern Cape has recorded the lowest number of initiate deaths in decades this season.

As the winter initiation season draws to a close this week, stakeholders credited the new Customary Male Initiation Practice Act signed into law by Premier Phumulo Masualle in November last year for the decrease. Mninawa Nyusile, chair of the cooperative governance and traditional affairs portfolio committee in the provincial legislature, described this initiation season as an important breakthrough with the deaths of initiates having been more than halved. Nkululeko Nxesi, director of the nongovernmental organisation (NGO) Community Development Foundation of SA, which runs a number of intervention efforts aimed at dealing with botched traditional circumcisions, warned against focusing on numbers as that could lead to complacency next season.

He said with enough resources this problem could be eliminated completely. Some of the initiatives the organisation has introduced include theestablishment of a camp in Tsolo for underaged boys and those that are vulnerable to being kidnapped and taken to illegal initiation schools.

“We kept 38 boys from ages 12 to 17, mostly from the Nyandeni area, which also has high numbers of deaths every winter season, throughout the season ... In December, we are targeting 2 000 boys.

“In the camp, we teach them about how to identify and go to a legal initiation school, life skills, and about HIV and Aids.

“We grouped them as clubs so that when they go back into society they can fight against bullying and the kidnapping to illegal initiation schools. So we think this is one of the critical interventions that assisted this season,” Nxesi said.