Pay snip threat over circumcision deathsby Lulamile Feni
The Eastern Cape government is considering docking the salaries of traditional leaders if initiates continue to die from botched circumcisions.
Speaking at the official start of the summer circumcision season at Nyandeni Great Place, near Libode, cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Fikile Xasa said: "I am researching how much power I have [in terms of] enforcing and implementing the idea [of docking salaries]."
Forty-three initiates died during the summer circumcision season in Eastern Cape last year, up from 25 in 2012. Since 2006, 426000 boys have undergone the traditional rite.
Of these, 5586 were hospitalised, 532 died and 233 were so mutilated that penile amputations were necessary. To date, 257 traditional circumcision practitioners have been arrested.
More than 40000 boys are expected to be ritually circumcised during the next few weeks.
Said Xasa: "The government cannot fold its hands while future leaders and innocent souls are dying.
"Although we do not want to impose ourselves as the government, we cannot wait for an invitation to intervene."
Prince Mlamli Ndamase, spokesman for Western Mpondoland's King Ndamase Ndamase, said the MEC faced litigation if he went ahead with his proposal.
Said Ndamase: "No labour law would allow him to do that. There is [no law] saying that he must attend to initiates and be responsible if they die."
King Ndamase said all traditional leaders under his jurisdiction would have to account for initiate deaths.
"Law enforcement agencies must arrest, prosecute and convict those turning the custom into criminality.
"It's a disgrace to us Ama-Mpondo that we are notorious for the high death rates of initiates."
The provincial chairman of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA, Chief Nkosinathi Jezile, said the MEC should focus on prosecuting those who carry out illegal circumcisions.
The CEO of Cecilia Makiwane Hospital, East London, Mthandeki Xamlashe, speaking on behalf of health MEC Phumza Dyantyi, said the health department had spent R20-million on monitoring initiations.
Community Development Foundation for SA director Nkululeko Nxesi said the foundation would increase the number of initiate rescue centres it operated from two to five.