CityPress - - News - LUBABALO NGCUKANA lubabalo.ngcukana@city­

Eastern Cape’s depart­ment of co­op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance and tra­di­tional af­fairs and the province’s House of Tra­di­tional Lead­ers launched the sum­mer ini­ti­a­tion sea­son in Queen­stown on Fri­day.

The launch saw City Press part­ner with lo­cal lead­ers to re­duce the num­ber of young men who die in the province in il­le­gal ini­ti­a­tion schools, and the num­ber of men who are maimed for life.

Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance MEC Fikile Xasa called on ev­ery­one in­volved in the tra­di­tion to take re­spon­si­bil­ity – es­pe­cially tra­di­tional lead­ers, who are the cus­to­di­ans of the rite.

“I am go­ing to write a let­ter to all the tra­di­tional lead­ers, in­clud­ing ward coun­cil­lors in ur­ban ar­eas where there are no chiefs, to ask them to sign a pledge that in their ar­eas no ini­ti­ate will die,” Xasa said.

Nkosi Ngan­gomh­laba Matanz­ima, chair­per­son of the Eastern Cape House of Tra­di­tional Lead­ers, said par­ents should en­sure that when they choose tra­di­tional nurses [amakhankatha], they should be older, ex­pe­ri­enced men who are able to im­part knowl­edge and wis­dom to initiates about the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of men in so­ci­ety.

“We have a se­ri­ous prob­lem when it comes to amakhankatha. Th­ese should be re­spon­si­ble men who have wives and are in good stand­ing in so­ci­ety; [men] who will treat initiates as their chil­dren. We should not al­low young men to be tra­di­tional nurses be­cause they have noth­ing good to teach initiates ex­cept to smoke dagga and drink al­co­hol,” Matanz­ima said.

At the event, City Press editor in chief Mondli Makhanya said while it was im­por­tant for me­dia to re­port on the deaths of initiates, it also needed to high­light pos­i­tive in­ter­ven­tions the gov­ern­ment and tra­di­tional lead­ers were mak­ing.

A web app built by City Press in part­ner­ship with Code for Africa and Open Data Dur­ban en­ables par­ents and initiates to check whether the tra­di­tional sur­geons they have cho­sen are reg­is­tered with the pro­vin­cial depart­ment of health, or find some­one who is. It also en­ables users to re­port un­reg­is­tered sur­geons and il­le­gal ini­ti­a­tion schools, as well as initiates who are in trou­ble. Go to page 9 for more

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