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COGTA Urges Safety of Initiates

The 2016/17 summer initiation season has finally come to a close across the country.

Just like all other years, many young men and women across the country embarked this sacred traditional rite of passage. The success of the summer initiation further strengthens the case of the importance of this cultural practice for the communities.

“We congratulate many young men and women across the cross who successfully went through the initiation in the last summer season and we hope that they will continue to be mentored by their elders to play key roles in society”, said Minister van Rooyen.

The department will continue to urge parents, potential initiates, traditional leaders and healers, and all the stakeholders across the country to continue working tirelessly to ensure that this important traditional practice is safe and there are no more deaths, abuse and assaults of initiates. Making this cultural practice safe, can be made possible if we all lend a hand to ensure that guidelines and precaution is taken before, during and after initiates have returned back home from initiation schools.

“We want to reiterate that life of our children matters and they are important, as such one death is one too many. Regrettably, even after many of our interventions, the 2016/17 summer initiation season saw about 40 young men losing their lives. This is unacceptable and we continue to urge parents, legal guardians, and community members in whatever capacity to assist in reversing this scourge that might end up destroying this important and sacred tradition of our people”, said Deputy Obed Minister Bapela.

Even though many illegal initiation schools were closed and some initiates were taken to hospitals and rescue camps for assistance, we unfortunately still experienced some challenges and the numbers below paints a grim picture.

  1. The EC Province – 29 deaths
  2. The NC Province – 2 deaths
  3. The NW Province – 2 deaths
  4. The WC Province – 4 deaths
  5. The FS Province – 3 deaths

We don’t believe that it is all doom and gloom, the “Zero Deaths Campaign” is relevant and important and as government we will continue to engage all South Africans who have at heart the interest of moving this tradition forward.

We also commend communities, parents, care givers and legal guardians who played their part to support the zero deaths approach during this initiation season. 

The planning for the Winter Initiation season has begun, we again urge parents to ensure that their children are medically prepared to enter this journey to manhood, they only entrust the lives of their children to registered schools, traditional surgeons and caregivers. This early start will ensure that we are adequately prepared to avert these tragic fatalities that we have witnessed.

Deputy Minister Bapela urged communities to work had in restoring dignity and pride of the African people by ensuring that this senseless death do not occur anymore. We should sound a warning alarm to those whose wish is to derail this important tradition, through greed and enriching themselves. Those who are running bogus initiation schools should not be allowed to hide amongst us as what they are criminals and should therefore be arrested. 

Government commends the cooperation received from some stakeholders and role-players during the last initiation season, “your hard work will go a long way in making our cultural practice save again. We successfully fought and defeated apartheid, the most unjust and brutal system in the world that has killed many of our people. I therefore urge all us to unite with the same determination to fight death of our children undergoing initiation,” said Minister van Rooyen.




Legadima Leso

CoGTA Communication

Cell: 083 378 9495