Traditional leaders and surgeons in the Eastern Cape have expressed disappointment at yet another suspension of the circumcision custom by government. The suspension is due to an increase in coronavirus infections in the province.
Contralesa and the House of Traditional Leaders have vowed that the summer initiation season will go ahead in the province despite the Department of Traditional Affairs’ decision to prolong the suspension.
Contralesa Chairperson in the province, Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, believes government’s delay in opening the summer initiation season has led to the mushrooming of illegal initiation schools in the province.
“As far as we are concerned, the Contralesa, as well as the House of Traditional Leaders, we have agreed with our provincial government that this summer initiation season will be opened and we are waiting for response from our national ministry to respond, accordingly. The delay on the part of the national ministry is causing more harm.”
Although disappointed, traditional surgeons say they will heed government’s decision. Traditional surgeon, Qaqambile Siyongwana, believes the suspension of the custom this season will be a huge loss to many parents, who had already made preparations to send their boys to initiation schools.
“We are very disappointed that our initiation custom has been halted. Our hearts are bleeding of the pronouncement by the minister. This is our only pride for the young boys to graduate from boyhood to manhood. It is a blow to us as the Xhosa people, it’s a pain.”
Nonkonyana also says there is no scientific proof that the second wave of COVID-19 will be caused by initiation schools. He says they will hold government accountable if the boys die at illegal initiation schools.
“We will blame our national government for any harm of death of initiates, because of this. Hence, we are calling upon the national government to pronounce because as far as we are concerned, the issue is irreversible and what needed to happen is that there must be regulations to comply with COVID-19 regulations. Initiation is not the cause of the second wave.”
Already, there are more than 20 illegal initiation schools across the Eastern Cape province. Contralesa has threatened to contact civic organisation, Sanco, and other stakeholders to organise a march to force government to open the summer initiation season.