Africa-Press – South-Africa. Eleven boys have died in the Eastern Cape during this year’s winter initiation season.
Six deaths were recorded from the Mhlontlo Local Municipality, two from King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipality, two from Ingquza Local Municipality, and one from Buffalo City in Mdantsane.
A further 119 were admitted to hospitals due to the customary male initiation-related complications.
Eastern Cape Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Xolile Nqatha, responding to a parliamentary question posed by the DA MPL Sanele Magaqa in the provincial legislature last week, said the boys had died from dehydration, septicaemia and gangrene.
Magaqa said serious interventions were needed to stop the deaths of children when they embarked on their traditional rites of passage into adulthood.
Asked by Magaqa about measures being taken to prevent the deaths, Nqatha blamed parents and those running the traditional circumcisions.
“All the above causes of deaths are as a result of negligence on the part of parents or persons who are assigned to take full responsibility of the initiates. Advocacy and awareness campaigns were embarked on by EC Cogta to educate would-be initiates and their parents or guardians about the roadmap to safe initiation including their responsibilities,” Nqatha said.
Magaqa was unimpressed with Nqatha’s response, accusing him of shirking his own responsibility as MEC for traditional affairs. He accused him of failing to accept that his department’s interventions were falling short.
He advised Nqatha to engage with the Provincial Initiation Coordination Committee (PICC) and review what had gone wrong, and come up with workable solutions that would ensure the children’s safety.
He said there needed to be better training of traditional leaders, and closer working relationships with health practitioners.
There also needed to be better enforcement of the Customary Initiation Act, Act 2 of 2021, which came into effect in September 2021.