Stopping initiation deaths a priority
Ramaphosa works with traditional leaders to ensure fewer youngsters lose their lives
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says national government and traditional leaders are working around the clock to stop deaths at initiation schools. At least 10 initiates and one traditional nurse have died in the province since the beginning of the winter initiation season two weeks ago. Speaking in Bhisho on Friday shortly after meeting traditional leaders behind closed doors at the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, which was celebrating its 20-year anniversary, the deputy president said initiation deaths were an unnecessary tragedy.
“The deaths of young men in initiation schools are a matter of great concern, not only to government, but also to our traditional leaders, and this is a matter that we are all dealing with,” he said.
“The good thing about it is that there is good cooperation between our traditional leaders and government. We have all been involved in a process to ensure that we minimise the deaths, and put in place a number of controls and systems.
“Everybody’s consciousness has been raised to that level. And I am sure that we are going to have fewer deaths because we are working hand in hand with our traditional leaders. So the matter is being addressed and will be addressed to get results going forward,” he assured the public.
Ramaphosa said that, through enforcing the new Eastern Cape Customary Male Initiation Practice Act signed into law by Premier Phumulo Masualle, there would be a significant reduction or even total elimination of initiation school deaths, which should not be happening during initiation processes in the first place.
Mamkeli Ngam, provincial spokesperson for cooperative governance and traditional affairs, said two initiates had died in Buffalo City metro, two in Joe Gqabi and two in Ngqeleni in the OR Tambo district, while another six died in a fire at a Qumbu initiation school, along with one traditional nurse.
Nkosi Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, the chairperson of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, called on Ramaphosa and government to help traditional leaders