DURBAN - Initiation deaths have become a national crisis according to Inkosi Sipho Mahlangu, chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders.
He was speaking during a meeting convened by the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department about the ongoing disaster, as 37 initiates died during the December period.
“They must go in alive and come back alive”, said Obed Bapela, Cogta Deputy Minister.
And yet, it hasn't been the case for 37 boys; 23 of them were from one province, the Eastern Cape.
They went to the initiation schools to become men, but came back in body bags.
Recently consolidated statistics on initiation deaths are shocking.
Initiation deaths are a national crisis. That’s according to iNkosi Sipho Mahlangu, chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders. He was speaking during a meeting convened by the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department about the ongoing disaster. Courtesy #DStv403
“Over the last six years, yes the figure is shocking at 403, with over 75 or close to 80% coming from the Eastern Cape being the biggest contributor to the fatalities that we are facing in the country", said Inkosi Sipho Mahlangu, National House of Traditional Leaders Chair.
“There must always be a sense of responsibility for any life that is lost. Someone has to account and the bulk has to stop at leadership both traditional as well as government leadership."
"We would like that whatever happens on the ground everyone must know that there has to be consequences where there’s been any form of negligence or misconduct”, said Zweli Mkhize, Cogta minister.
And it's not just the deaths that are shocking, as many young men undergo amputations due to botched circumcisions.
“There are 132 amputations in the Eastern Cape alone. So, it’s a serious problem hence one has just said now that Eastern Cape is agreeing that there has to be serious medical intervention.
"So, we think that with the medical intervention we should be able to deal with issues and arrest those who are killing and maiming our young boys”, said Mahlangu.
The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities believes there must be a balance between preserving the ancient cultural practice and saving young men’s lives.
“Culture should not be used as a vehicle to death of young people at initiation school, but at the same time not compromising the original practices of initiation. So, we are playing a pivotal role in this gathering because we are supporting and providing oversight to the proceedings”, said Edward Mafadza, CRL CEO.
All stakeholders agree on one thing: the deaths must stop.