MEC to visit injured Gauteng initiates in hospital, 2 deaths reported

Lebogang Maile. (Tebogo Letsie, Gallo Images, file)
Lebogang Maile. (Tebogo Letsie, Gallo Images, file)

Gauteng Human Settlements, Urban Planning and Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile will be visiting initiates who were injured at illegal initiation schools at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital on Friday. 

Earlier this week, two initiates died at separate unregistered initiation schools in Gauteng. 

"We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the two deceased initiates. Their deaths call upon law enforcement agencies and government as a whole to act swiftly against those responsible for these unwarranted deaths of young and innocent souls," Maile said on Thursday.

Maile's spokesperson Castro Ngobese said a 23-year-old man had died at a bogus initiation school, while three others had been taken to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital for medical treatment. 

"The initiate died at a bogus school around Crown Mines, south of Johannesburg. An alleged suspect responsible for this bogus school has been apprehended by police," Ngobese said. 

READ | Illegal initiation school in Johannesburg claims one life

"We applaud the men and women in blue uniforms, working together with Gauteng Provincial Task Team on Initiations, for swiftly apprehending the culprit. More arrests will follow soon in lieu of the fact that another bogus school operator is on the run," Maile said.

According to Ngobese, another initiate died at a bogus initiation school in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg. The deceased is a 16-year-old boy from Sebokeng. The alleged operator of the school is on the run and is reportedly hiding on the West Rand. 

In Vanderbijlpark, a bogus school was closed down by police after community members, mainly parents, alerted authorities.

Twenty-three initiates have been rescued and taken to a hospital in the area for treatment. The police were "on an advanced operation to apprehend the owner of the bogus school", Ngobese said.  

"We call on our communities to work with the department and relevant law enforcement agencies in apprehending the culprits," said Maile.

Schools suspended

Earlier this month, the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Rights Commission suspended initiation schools for a year in four regions of the Eastern Cape, especially where deaths occurred, until all compliance-related matters are comprehensively addressed, News24 reported.

On November 19, the commission also called for the removal of initiates, following the deaths of 23 boys and young men, from a number of factors, including dehydration.

Last week, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize called on traditional leaders in the Eastern Cape to "act in restraint" to save the lives of initiates.

He said the deaths had raised concerns and that action should be taken against all those who could have played a role.

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