The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - TANKISO MAKHETHA

MORE THAN 250 chil­dren were res­cued from il­le­gally run ini­ti­a­tion schools at Sed­ibeng in the Vaal re­gion dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.

Sed­ibeng mu­nic­i­pal­ity Mem­ber of May­oral Com­mit­tee for safety and se­cu­rity Yusuf Ma­hommed said over 35 schools were raided and closed down dur­ing the sum­mer ini­ti­a­tion sea­son, which runs in De­cem­ber and Jan­uary.

He said the schools were il­le­gal be­cause all ini­ti­a­tion prac­tices had been sus­pended by the Com­mis­sion for the Pro­mo­tion and Pro­tec­tion of Cul­tural, Re­li­gious and Lin­guis­tic com­mu­ni­ties.

The com­mis­sion’s re­port found that there were crim­i­nal ele­ments linked to the tra­di­tion. It found that the rit­ual had been marred by vi­o­lence, mur­der, rape, as­saults, ab­duc­tions, ex­tor­tion and schools run by chil­dren as young as 15, and that closely linked to un­reg­is­tered ini­ti­a­tion schools was the il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion of land.

The com­mis­sion said some of the schools were not an ac­cu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the cul­tural ini­ti­a­tion rit­ual, and that they vi­o­lated the con­sti­tu­tion and sev­eral of the coun­try’s laws.

It also said some of the prac­tices at the schools en­dan­gered the lives of chil­dren.

“Ev­ery­one in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity knew the prac­tice was sus­pended,” Ma­hommed said. “But there are peo­ple who think they are above the law.

“We will start a new oper­a­tion for schools on the out­skirts of Sed­ibeng, where we found that those who were stopped from prac­tis­ing went and ran their schools.

“We don’t want to see any chil­dren dressed in their school’s at­tire or even see­ing par­ties be­ing held be­cause they have re­turned. We will not al­low cel­e­bra­tions to take place be­cause it might en­cour­age oth­ers,” he added.

Sip­inare Mo­fo­keng, chair­per­son of the Sed­ibeng Tra­di­tional Sur­geons Com­mit­tee, said: “We are hop­ing this sea­son’s raids will de­ter so­ci­ety from con­tin­u­ing with the prac­tice un­til order has been es­tab­lished within the tra­di­tional fra­ter­nity.”

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