Outrage over high number of initiate deaths

Reading Time: 2 minutes

An organisation called ‘Men’s Sector’ has expressed outrage over the high number of initiate deaths across the country and has backed calls for a suspension of the initiation season in affected areas this year.

On Tuesday, another life was lost at an illegal initiation school at Crown Mines, in Johannesburg. This was the second death at an illegal initiation school in Gauteng this week.

Men’s Sector national chairperson Nthando Yola says there is a need for a very sustainable approach.

“This shouldn’t just be something that happens during this time. Because every time it’s almost like we are waiting for this particular period and almost expecting that there are going to be initiates that are going to die. So there is a need for a very sustainable approach. An approach that is very clear and is satisfactory, that is involving all the roles and role players in order to make sure that we curb the deaths of these initiates”

Police Minister Bheki Cele has also called for greater powers for the SAPS to deal with the death of young men at initiation schools.


Dehydration has been said to be the major cause of the death of the initiates in the Eastern Cape. 25 initiates have died during this initiation season.

An anonymous 2017 initiate revealed that initiates are completely deprived of water in order for them to “heal faster”, as parents would set an early date for them to come back home.

‘Money-making scam’

Elders in Mqanduli in the Eastern Cape have called for the Xhosa custom of initiation to be done by those who have extensive experience only.

The elders say initiation schools have become a money-making scam and no thought is given to the safety of youths.

Since 1995, over 1100 initiates have died in the Eastern Cape alone.