The Nelson Mandela Bay Initiation Forum in the Eastern Cape is concerned about the increasing number of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in the Metro.

This is in the wake of the announcement by the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department, that summer male initiation will be permitted, under strict conditions. The forum which comprises traditional surgeons, health officials, and representatives of the House of Traditional Leaders, met in Port Elizabeth to assess their readiness for the summer initiation period.

The Nelson Mandela Bay has one of the lowest initiate death rates in the country. Over the last five years, three deaths were registered, and none of them were related to the custom.

It is compulsory for the traditional surgeons and nurses to register with the Ulwaluko Initiation Forum, as it operates under strict health regulations.

According to the Forum’s Chairperson, Pule Lonake, the outbreak of the coronavirus has provided them with new challenges, such as the supplies of PPE and the training of traditional surgeons to operate under the national state of disaster.

“The training of the trainers’ workshop will take place in East London next week and then they will come back to train that is why I say we will open the season here when we are convinced that we are ready. People have a tendency when they hear that the circumcision school is open and somebody dies they will blame us. So, we are not going to take responsibility for that.”

Lonake has also warned the parents to be on the lookout for bogus traditional surgeons.

“Remember the custom has an element of business. Health must be on alert.”

This age-old traditional rite of passage to manhood was suspended in March when the country was put under lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus.