Police hit traditional surgeons running illegal initiation schools with 30 cases

Initiates at Qaqambile Siyongwana’s initiation school outside Mthatha. Picture: Lubabalo Ngcukana
Initiates at Qaqambile Siyongwana’s initiation school outside Mthatha. Picture: Lubabalo Ngcukana

Around 30 cases have been opened against traditional surgeons operating illegal circumcision schools in the Eastern Cape, following the deaths of 19 initiates.

So far, 12 people have been arrested in various parts of the province, with Eastern Cape Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Fikile Xasa welcoming the arrests.

Xasa said there were 18 dockets opened for unlawful circumcision and 19 inquest dockets.

"The total number of cases opened from the beginning of the summer traditional initiation season by the police stands at 37. The 12 arrests include bogus traditional surgeons, a parent and a grandfather in Amathole, Chris Hani and OR Tambo District municipalities.

"Law enforcement is one of our pillars to protect life, prevent injuries and all forms of abuse experienced by initiates before, during and after the customary practice of traditional male initiation. No stone should be left unturned to ensure that the traditional initiation practice is not exploited as a commercial enterprise used for personal enrichment at the expense of our children," said Xasa.

READ: Death toll in Eastern Cape initiation schools rises to 7

The MEC sent his condolences to the bereaved families and relatives of the deceased initiates.

Xasa called on all members of the monitoring teams to work harder to ensure safe passage of initiates who remain in the bush and are yet to be reunited with their families.

He further pleaded with parents and men to ensure that they continue to be visible in the initiation schools during this festive season and ensure that there are no more deaths and further injuries.

"We all have a responsibility in line with the provisions of the Customary Male Initiation Practice Act, 2016 to ensure that the teachings and rituals that are part of male initiation are aimed at character building to prepare the young boys for adulthood in a safe and secure environment," Xasa said. 

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