At last – a big suc­cess for Eastern Cape

CityPress - - Voices -

It is a stun­ning suc­cess in a province that is not ex­actly known for its stun­ning suc­cesses. The death toll for the win­ter ini­ti­a­tion sea­son in Eastern Cape dropped by a whop­ping 58%.

So, how did the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment do it? By ap­ply­ing the ba­sics: pass­ing an ef­fec­tive law, mak­ing sure that law was en­forced, and by work­ing closely with tra­di­tional lead­ers and par­ents to en­sure that the death toll dropped to a his­toric low. Fif­teen fewer ini­ti­ates died this win­ter com­pared with those of last year.

The Cus­tom­ary Male Ini­ti­a­tion Prac­tice Act, which was passed last De­cem­ber, was en­forced for the first time this past ini­ti­a­tion sea­son.

Co­op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance and tra­di­tional af­fairs MEC Fik­ile Xasa said the new act made all the dif­fer­ence, and “sent a big mes­sage” to lo­cal tra­di­tional lead­ers who are sup­posed to over­see the cus­tom, as well as to tra­di­tional sur­geons and nurses op­er­at­ing il­le­gally.

He also said the act guided the for­ma­tion of ini­ti­a­tion mon­i­tor­ing fo­rums across the province – staffed by chiefs, po­lice and nurses from the health de­part­ment from pro­vin­cial, dis­trict and lo­cal lev­els – and that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties ac­tively took part in the pro­gramme as did the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity.

Be­sides that, the de­part­ment also com­mu­ni­cated mes­sages of safe ini­ti­a­tion to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and res­i­dents well ahead of time, and part­ner­ships with the me­dia – in­clud­ing City Press and Umhlobo Wenene FM – “worked won­ders in terms of mak­ing peo­ple aware”, Xasa said.

Nkosi Ngan­gomh­laba Matanz­ima, head of the province’s House of Tra­di­tional Lead­ers, said that, pre­vi­ously, “there was no proper act guid­ing ini­ti­a­tion, es­pe­cially when it comes to penal­ties on those found to be prac­tis­ing il­le­gal ini­ti­a­tion schools”.

Still, 11 ini­ti­ates died this sea­son, which is 11 too many, and there is a lot still to do to make rit­ual ini­ti­a­tion safer. But this is an ex­cel­lent start and we look for­ward to even fewer deaths when the sum­mer ini­ti­a­tion sea­son takes place in De­cem­ber.

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