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62 62 74 80 71 75 pro­vin­cial, dis­trict and lo­cal lev­els – and the province’s mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties also played their part and com­mit­ted re­sources to help.

Xasa also said part­ner­ships with the me­dia – in­clud­ing City Press and Umhlobo Wenene FM – “worked won­ders in terms of mak­ing peo­ple aware”.

“All of us are ap­pre­ci­at­ing this re­duc­tion in deaths,” he said.

Matanz­ima said this win­ter sea­son, 19 peo­ple were ar­rested across the province for il­le­gal ini­ti­a­tion, in­clud­ing tra­di­tional sur­geons and nurses, and that it was im­por­tant that they were suc­cess­fully pros­e­cuted and made ex­am­ples of.

The chief from Cofimv­aba has al­ways been op­ti­mistic that ini­ti­ate deaths would one day come to an end.

“Ev­ery year I al­ways say that ... the prob­lem will be his­tory one day. I am say­ing this be­cause I have no­ticed that in the past there have been no good work­ing re­la­tions be­tween par­ents and tra­di­tional lead­ers on this mat­ter,” he said.

“It is the par­ents who have the author­ity to choose the tra­di­tional sur­geons and tra­di­tional nurses for their sons and pre­pare them for ini­ti­a­tion.

“In the past par­ents seemed to ne­glect this role which caused a lot of con­fu­sion be­tween them and tra­di­tional lead­ers who could not do any­thing when par­ents did not take their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties se­ri­ously. That sit­u­a­tion has since im­proved. Now tra­di­tional lead­ers are work­ing well with par­ents be­cause this is a mat­ter that re­quires them to work hand in hand.”

Matanz­ima said this was the first time there was a law gov­ern­ing tra­di­tional ini­ti­a­tion with real con­se­quences for those run­ning il­le­gal ini­ti­a­tion schools.

“Though this is the first sea­son where the new act is be­ing im­ple­mented, we can see it has made a huge dif­fer­ence.

“The law it­self also puts most of the re­spon­si­bil­ity on par­ents and tra­di­tional lead­ers, which is what has been miss­ing,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the act, those re­spon­si­ble for ini­ti­ate deaths in ini­ti­a­tion schools across Eastern Cape face up to 25 years in jail.

“But over­all, look­ing at the his­tor­i­cally re­duced num­ber of deaths, we see it as progress. But as we ap­pre­ci­ate the im­prove­ment, we believe this is ex­actly the right time for us to dou­ble our ef­forts,” he said.

“We must not re­lax be­cause we might go back to where we were be­fore. We need to en­cour­age and as­sist each other and make sure we work to get to a point where not a sin­gle life is lost due to tra­di­tional male ini­ti­a­tion,” Matanz­ima said.

Chief Ngan­gomh­laba Matanz­ima

How many ini­ti­ates have died in the Eastern Cape since 2006


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