June 19, 2014
Contralesa to monitor initiation schoolsby Sithandiwe Velaphi
Traditional leaders and health officials in the Eastern Cape will monitor initiation schools daily in an effort to stop the deaths of initiates.
The decision, announced yesterday, followed the death of an initiate in Mqanduli a week ago.
The death has left Eastern Cape traditional leaders worried following their immense campaigns with which they pledged for zero deaths of initiates this winter.
A 16-year-old initiate died at Upper Ngqwarha village in Mqanduli.
It is not yet clear how the initiate died but a botched circumcision has not been ruled out.
In the past four days, hundreds of boys in the Eastern Cape have gone to circumcision schools in line with their culture.
Traditional leaders will launch the start of the initiation season in Mthatha on Friday.
The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa), which vowed for zero deaths, said the death of the Mqanduli initiate was cause for concern.
“This means our aim has been dashed already. This is worrying us,” Contralesa general secretary chief Xolile Ndevu said.
“But we are not going to fold our arms. “We will play our part in making sure that lives of our boys are saved.”
A total of 82 boys form the Eastern Cape died between June and December last year.
A former Eastern Cape doctor, Dingeman Rijken, who worked at Holy Cross Hospital in Flagstaff, said only the centralisation of the ritual could save lives. [...or leaving out the genital cutting...]
“The rest of their (traditional leaders’) plan is similar to those of previous years.
“It is therefore highly unlikely that this season will be death-free,” Rijken said.