Two underage boys die at illegal Eastern Cape initiation schools

2018-06-22 14:49
(File, City Press)

(File, City Press)

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Three initiates, two of whom were just 15 years old, have died in the Eastern Cape, barely 10 days after authorities launched the winter initiation season.

And with schools breaking up for holidays on Friday, the provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Department says it will have monitoring teams on full alert, as it anticipates a huge rush of boys heading to the bush.

Cogta spokesperson Mamkeli Ngam said the three initiates had been at illegal initiation lodges in Nyandeni and were believed to have died on Thursday.

"At the moment, we are still waiting for post-mortem results from the Department of Health," he said.

"Our view is that the two underage boys went to the bush with a lack of supervision." 

While police were still investigating the circumstances, Ngam said no parental consent had been obtained.

Read: Government goes high-tech to bust illegal initiation schools

"We call on parents to look out for their kids. No child under 18 is allowed to undergo the initiation."

He declined to release the identities of the initiates until he was sure the families had been informed.

The department extended its condolences.

Cogta MEC Fikile Xasa, together with the health department and provincial House of Traditional Leaders, launched the winter initiation season on June 12, with teams being sent to initiation schools to monitor conditions.

'They get assaulted and deprived of water and food'

Eleven initiates died during last year's winter season. Six of them died when their initiation school huts caught fire, City Press reported.

Ngam said their "ducks were in a row" to ensure it was a safe season.

He said the ritual itself wasn't deadly, but that it was people who abused the system, with illegal initiation schools killing people.

"These boys don't undergo the required premedical examination to determine their state of health. That creates a serious problem.

"There is abuse. In certain cases, there is no care for the boys. They get assaulted and deprived of water and food."

He confirmed that three traditional surgeons had been arrested for performing illegal circumcisions in Tsolo, Port St Johns and East London.

Xasa was expected to meet with the different parties monitoring the initiations in the OR Tambo District Municipality on Monday and Tuesday.

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Read more on:    cogta  |  education  |  initiation
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