A traditional nurse has been arrested in Libode in the Eastern Cape for allegedly running an illegal initiation school. OR Tambo initiation Forum chairperson chief Mkhanyiseli Dudumayo says they raided a homestead at Mchonco village and discovered one initiate hidden in a rondavel.
They apprehended the traditional nurse, with the initiate and handed them to the police. The forum and the police are still looking for the traditional surgeon who fled into the forest.
Last week the Forum demolished several illegal initiation lodges and rescued twenty initiates. Dudumayo says the situation in Pondoland is uncontrollable, as villagers do not take the COVID-19 spread seriously.
Postponement of initiation
The Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa) says it is contemplating postponing initiations this year due to the coronavirus.
Congress president Kgosi Larmeck Mokoena says discussions are underway with different stakeholders including government officials. He says it in the interest of every person to curb the spread of the virus. Kgosi Mokoena says the safety of initiates is important for ingoma holders.
“We have decided to consult widely with all stakeholders to make sure that we look at the possibility of suspending or cancelling initiation season this time.”
“We are also consulting with parents, ingoma holders, principals of initiation schools because want to adhere to the government call that we all play a meaningful role in making sure that we curb this virus.”
“We support each other in terms of making sure we do not lose any life again base on this scourge that is troubling our country at the moment,” explains Mokoena.
Eastern Cape suspends initiation ceremonies
The Eastern Cape government has undertaken to suspend all circumcision-related ceremonies amid the coronavirus outbreak. The decision is in line with the county’s precautionary measures taken to contain the spread of the virus.
Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC in the Eastern Cape, Xolile Nqatha, says his department, in consultation with the House of Traditional Leaders, has taken a decision to halt initiation until further notice.
“We have taken a view that in the 30 days from now there must be no initiations going forward up until that decision is reviewed because we would not want to expose initiates into threats of deaths and that we would want to ensure that there is compliance with the national state of disaster. We (prefer to) save lives than to take risks unnecessarily in the face of this challenge.
Limpopo suspends initiation season for 2020
The Limpopo Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has suspended initiation schools for the rest of this year. This is part of continued efforts to contain the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic.
The department has also warned against bogus initiation schools.
The traditional practice, which often makes headlines for the wrong reasons such as botched circumcisions, is commonly observed in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.
In the video below, Limpopo announces the suspension of all initiation schools:
Graphic below shows amendments to COVID-19 regulations: