Initiation awareness campaigns launched in OR Tambo District

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A series of initiation awareness campaigns has been launched in the OR Tambo District, in the Eastern Cape.

The Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committee says the increased number of deaths in the district, is worrisome.

More than 20 initiates died during the last summer initiation season, 10 of those were in the OR Tambo region.

VIDEO: Eastern Cape launches various initiation awareness campaigns

Various role-players in the initiation custom, like traditional leaders, surgeons and nurses came together to find solutions to prevent deaths at initiation schools.

Sibabalwe Manzana, a traditional surgeon, believes everyone has a role to play.

“The problem lies where the initiates are refused water and they are circumcised by bogus ingcibi (surgeon). These bogus traditional surgeons do not know this custom. So, these boys end up dying when they should not be dying.”

The Provincial House of Traditional Leaders wants families to be hands on, ensuring their children go to recognised initiation schools.

Nkosi Landubuzwe Ngwekazi says the focus will be on the OR Tambo region.

“Initiation is our age-old custom but in our province of the Eastern Cape, you will find out it is under the dark cloud in some of the regions. So, that is why we are here today. We have invited all the stakeholders to see where we have the challenges. Some of the challenges is the problem of people not getting involved, especially the households because it’s the family matter before it is the matter for the tribe as a whole.”

The awareness campaign launch comes a month before the start of the winter initiation season.

The provincial MEC for Traditional Affairs, Zolile Williams says the aim is to strengthen monitoring of initiation schools.

“We want to strengthen monitoring of all the initiation schools in the province, especially in OR Tambo. We want budgets to be availed by all municipalities so that there is monitoring. We would want municipalities to dedicate a councillor and an official in each municipality who is going to be responsible for traditional circumcision. It cannot be left without being attended to seriously because there is no belief that one day we will stop this tradition.”

The Department for Traditional Affairs, says to prosecute illegal traditional surgeons is nearly impossible, because communities and witnesses refuse to come forward.