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