Congress of Traditional Leadership of South Africa says all stakeholders responsible with the summer initiation season will strictly implement initiation policies and COVID-19 regulations to avoid any casualties. Scores of initiates die due to many contributing factors including the mushrooming of illegal initiation schools.
The second wave of COVID-19 may have a detrimental effect on initiates if strong measures are not taken seriously. The summer initiation season will kick off on the 17th of December.
The Eastern Cape province has already registered two deaths at illegal initiation schools, one from Lukholo in Mbizana and another one from Gxulu in Libode. Some were hospitalized after they were rescued by the initiation forum.
There is a high level of anxiety among parents as hundreds of boys will enroll in initiation schools.
Traditional leaders say they are ready. The Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders chairperson Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana says preparations are in order.
“The initiation coordinating committees that are chaired by traditional leaders are actually receiving the reports from the doctors, from the families and of cause from the initiation forums to make sure that the initiation lodges are constructed in a proper manner.”
Traditional surgeons from legal initiation schools say compliance with COVID-19 regulations will be prioritized to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
One of the traditional surgeons, Siyongwan Tiyane says, “We want all the boys to go and test for COVID-19 and then the boy must have a comprehensive medical test affirmed by the doctor. A parent must give permission for the boy to be circumcised and the traditional leader must also confirm that before he is handed over to the initiation school.”
Initiation in the areas of Matatiele and Mount Fletcher will not take place due to insufficient initiation period.
Initiation Forum Chairperson in the northern region of the province, Chief Thabang Kuali says, “For us, in this region, two weeks will never be enough to continue with the schools. So, we are already late, that’s why the decision was taken that this year, let’s not do anything or attempt to have any school. Let’s wait and see where the pandemic will take us and then we prepare ourselves for the coming season where we’ll be ready knowing it on time, that if the pandemic is still there, how are we going to comply and have our schools during that season.”
The infiltration of initiation custom by people with commercial motives has since led to many casualties over the past 20 years. Hundreds of initiates died and some had their manhood amputated due to illegal initiation schools as well as ill-treatment that young boys endure during the process.
Contralesa in Eastern Cape says summer initiation season will go ahead: