Win­ter ini­ti­a­tion season starts to­mor­row

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

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.

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