Winter initiation season starts tomorrow
The Eastern Cape’s winter initiation season begins tomorrow and provincial authorities are preparing to crack down on illegal initiation schools and unregistered traditional surgeons.
The Eastern Cape Customary Male Initiation Practice Act will be enforced for the first time this season after being signed into law in December. In terms of the act, those who operate initiation schools without written permission from the MEC for health and approval from their local traditional leaders will be sentenced to a R20 000 fine and/or a year in jail. And, if one of their initiates dies, operators could face 25 years in prison.
Provincial health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said authorities would concentrate their efforts in the OR Tambo and Alfred Nzo districts, which are considered winter season hot spots.
The department has set aside R13 million for interventions that include leasing 35 bakkies for 45 days. Each will carry two medical officers with surgical supplies. Interventions further include the provision of water to initiation huts and accommodation for teams monitoring initiation schools. Several doctors have also been contracted to assist.
“We are creating space in hospitals in anticipation of overflows,” said Kupelo.
“The new act will be enforced for the first time and police will have to take it seriously and show no mercy in dealing with perpetrators.”
Kupelo said initiates, who have to be above the age of 18, should undergo mandatory medical prescreening to identify and treat any pre-existing conditions.
The winter initiation season will be launched tomorrow by the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders and the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs.