There are a number of those who both support and oppose government involvement and regulation of the initiation practice.
FULL FEATURE PAGE: Rite of passage denied
BLOEMFONTEIN - The practice of cultural initiation goes back hundreds of years, but the signing of a provincial act to regulate the practice occurred only in 2004.
While the constitution does make allowance for the right to basic nutrition, sanitation, shelter and protection from maltreatment, the cultural practice of initiation required its own set of specific legislation.
The Free State initiation schools health act of 2004 was promulgated with the specific purpose to provide for the adherence to health standards in traditional initiation schools as well as to provide for the granting of permission for the performance of circumcision operations. The act also makes provisions for the approval process by which initiation schools are to be established.
National legislation trumps provincial legislation, and in the absence of provincial legislation in provinces where the number of initiate deaths scream for firmer regulation, such a national act would be useful towards more effective policing.
There are a number of those who both support and oppose government involvement and regulation of the practice. The responsibility however, even from government, is shifted to the parents. That is where the decision to go to initiation is first made. Many officials agree it is the responsibility of the family to ensure the child is psychologically and physically fit to undergo initiation.
In turn from the side of government, there needs to be checks to ensure those running initiation schools are qualified and able along with holding the positive intentions the practice embodies.
This too often is not the case and so the need for legislation that hold people accountable is required.
Ideally, South Africa wants to have a regulating act that promotes cooperation between traditional leadership, government and any other role-players in respect to initiation schools and practices.
These are some of the requirements included in the Free State initiation act:
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED TO HOST AN INITIATION SCHOOL:
HEALTH AND SAFETY REQUIREMENTS:
REQUIREMENTS FOR INITIATES:
CONDITIONS TO PERFORM CIRCUMCISION:
FREE STATE INITIATION SCHOOL HEALTH ACT 1 OF 2004
DRAFT POLICY ON THE CUSTOMARY PRACTICE OF INITIATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
There is currently a national policy in the works as a working document since May 2015.
This is the first such national oversight document attempted to regulate the practice. The need for it is reflected in the fact that reference is often made to illegal initiation schools. While that is understood in context, such schools cannot be considered illegal in the absence of legislation requiring such schools to be registered and compliant.
Furthermore, there are steps to create a national initiation oversight committee which duty it will be to inspect initiation schools, investigate alleged abuse, prepare a national report, and keep comprehensive statistics.