The 2019 summer initiation season post-mortem has cited poor participation from parents and families as one of the root causes of deaths of initiates in the Eastern Cape. At least 29 young men lost their lives as a result of botched circumcisions during the past season.

The report tabled at the provincial House of Traditional Leaders, shows that things could have been worse, had it not been for members of the Joint Operations Committee, looking into circumcision.

Families, particularly men, were lambasted for not playing their role and leaving things to government. Traditional Affairs MEC, Xolile Nqatha, says they are intensifying their plans to curb initiate deaths.

Provincial Police Commissioner, Liziwe Ntshinga, says they have made a number of arrests of people who unlawfully circumcised initiates.

“As the police, we have worked very hard during this initiation season because we were pro-active on the ground when the reports were coming in we were there. So out of 103 cases that were reported, we managed to arrest 49 suspects. Out of the 49 arrested, 37 are going to court the others are being investigated and we are working with the NPA.”

House of Traditional Leaders chairperson, Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana has welcomed the report.

“Well the report from our provincial initiation task team is well received and discussed and we were very excited because the premier as the head of the government, we have made it very clear that we are going to work together, government civil society, all structures in the Eastern Cape to root our challenges that are facing initiation of boys to manhood.”

Traditional leaders in the province have written to the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) to inform the organisation about their displeasure on the proposed suspension of traditional circumcision for a year in the province. The amendment of the law looking into traditional circumcision is also on the cards.