Ah Zanelizwe!, Hon MEC – COGTA: Fikile Xasa, Deputy Executive Mayor OR Tambo District Cllr: Nogumla, Chairperson of the National House  of Traditional Leaders, Ikosi Mahlangu, Ndzundza! Chairperson of the Provincial House, Inkosi Nonkonyane, Members of the National and Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders, Members of the Local Houses of Traditional Leaders, Head of Departments, Senior Managers, Honored Guests and Members of the Media

Programme Director


I raise at this opportunity to address this event as we Launch the 2018 Winter Initiation Season.

The commitment and the message of government is that of ZERO DEATHS, our collective campaign for #2018InitiationSafety requires that we not only talk but that we should act against those who continuously and deliberately undermines the work of government and those of Traditional Leaders.

Any death of a child weather it is a legal or illegal school it is a negative reflection to this important cultural rights practice, as we say one death is one to many.

The work of the Eastern Cape government together with Traditional Leaders is commendable for the passing of the Eastern Cape Customary Male Initiation Practice Act, the legislation should be commended as it is a step in the right direction in helping to curb deaths and injuries to initiates.

The law would help to ensure that custom is not used a money-making scheme, and that unscrupulous elements received harsh jail sentences of up to 15 years. The new law states that anyone who conducts or opens an initiation school without written permission from the MEC for health and the relevant traditional leadership could be liable for a fine of up to R20 000 or 12 months jail, or both.

The law further provides that if any illegal initiation school results in injury or death to an initiate those responsible can be charged with attempted murder or murder.

The Parliamentary processes are also under way to conclude the Customary Initiation Bill, the law is not intended to control the practice of culture or to control it as some of the traditional leaders have objected to the law outside the core purpose, which is to Save Lives of the Initiates

To further provide for the effective regulation of customary initiation practices; to provide for the establishment of a National Initiation Oversight Committee and Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committees and their functions; to provide for the responsibilities, roles and functions of the various role-players involved in initiation practices as such or in the governance aspects thereof; to provide for the effective regulation of initiation schools; to provide for regulatory powers of the Minister and Premiers.

Both the National and Provincial legislations should be appreciated as interventions to protect our culture and save lives. The legislations require financial and human recourses to can effectively implement its enforcement provisions the Department of Traditional Affairs at National Level has been tasked to cost the legislation to ensure that our engagement with treasury to request for additional funding over a period of five years.

My presence here today is to support and work together as a collective to win the challenge of eliminating illegal schools and to also deal with the pear pressure amongst the young boys through effective Public Awareness Campaign and Education programme to obtain community involvement and active interest to participate in the lives of the childrens.

The names they call each other when you are not yet gone to the mountain are not good and as a results in under age young boys go to the mountain not because of cultural practice but for them to feel part of their peers.

We gather here once again collectively as government, traditional leaders and civil society to continue show our commitment of ensuring that our boys are safe.

We have as a department requested additional funding from Treasury and we have been sourcing funding from other departments including State Owned Institutions. The National Lottery Commission has come on board to fund and support Public Awareness and education Campaign through Vusisizwe Trust, an NGO based here in the Eastern Cape to tune of R2 999. 000.00. The NGO should be guided by us in terms of the content of the messaging to be driven to the community.

Furthermore, the National Department of Traditional Affairs would make a pronouncement of its financial and human resource support in due course, I have been assured by the Director General that there are funds to be made available for immediate assistance through the Inter- departmental transfer processes.

The Minister Dr. Zwelini Mkhize has personally indicated that we would also be approaching the other Government Institutions for additional funding. Whilst we are sourcing for additional funding that would increase visibility of the monitoring teams and improve our call center activities including Public Awareness Campaign.

We need to deal decisively and harshly of those who continue to disregard the law and operate illegal schools for financial gains. The problem of kidnapping is a criminal activity.

The further intervention is that the Minister has instructed the Cooperative Governance Department that Local Government should have By-Laws that prohibits and restricts the illegal schools.This process is of key importance because all these illegal schools happen at Local government uncontrolled areas.

To this end our joint commitment government, traditional leaders and civil society organizations we should provide leadership as part of curbing death, One Death is One Too Many will remain emphasizing the same statement until there are no deaths as a results of the practice of the initiation.  

We extend our gratitude for the role that traditional leaders have played over years in preserving our culture, our heritage, our customary practice. It is us again who have the responsibility to ensure that we protect our very identity by ensuring that no life is lost during the coming Initiation Season.

Let me share more specifically the following problems that are encountered:

Poor accessibility and construction of the bhomas,
Poor wound care leading to complications,
Restriction of water intake leading to dehydration,
Delays in seeking medical attention when complications occur,
Lack of guardianship leading to physical violence including
Insufficient participation of Traditional Leaders, Parents, Community, which is inadequate supervision.
Furthermore, the initiation practice is as a mechanism to ensure that the legacy of their forefathers (ancestors) is passed from father to son through the teachings in the initiation schools. It is a religion of those communities who believe in the existence of ancestral powers.

Those communities believe that their success and is dependent on the active involvement of their ancestors in guiding them hence they consider initiation as a religion.

Eastern Cape has over years put great plans and more budget we are here to support and work together as a collective.


I also wish to take this opportunity to express UMUBULELO to my colleague Hon: MEC Mr. Fikile Xasa together with the MEC for Health, Arts and Culture and other department including the Provincial House for the initiatives to lead on this matter of an important cultural heritage and to ensure that government voice as policy makers receive greater prominence for the preservations of this practice.

As traditional leaders, we have a lot of respect and influence on our community members. People look up to us for solutions to different challenges they might face.

On behalf of the department, we wish to extend our best wishes for the deliberations and discussions during the Provincial Indaba and let us all convene next year in a much bigger scale.