Gauteng winter initiation practice: 2 dead, 132 hospitalised

The abduction of initiates and the distribution of drugs and alcohol to minors at unregistered schools are challenges identified by monitoring teams.

The Gauteng winter initiation practice has drawn to an end, claiming the lives of two people while 138 initiates had to be rescued from illegal schools and 132 were hospitalised.

The figures speak of the importance of registering of initiation schools, with the Gauteng Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committee saying only six of 87 applicants met the required standards.

The Gauteng winter initiation school season started on June 23and ended on July 17.

Numerous children receive medical treatment

Gauteng emergency medical services spokesperson Annikie Lelaka says the EMS responded to a call in Atteridgeville, Mshongoville following a call for help because of the circumcision culture.

She said the EMS transported 132 patients to different health facilities for medical check-ups.

Children were taken to the following hospitals:
  • 48 – Tshwane District Hospital
  • 56 – Pretoria West Hospital
  • 18 – Laudium Community Health Centre
  • 10 – Phomolong Primary Healthcare Clinic

Some families collected their children at the Atteridgeville Police Station.

Gauteng Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committee (PICC) Spokesperson Kiba Kekana says 138 initiates were rescued after the committee received reports of the illegal initiation school’s operations.

According to Kekana 119 of the rescued initiates were dwellers at an Atteridgeville Informal Settlement.

Nine initiates were rescued from illegal schools in Ekurhuleni.

Two deaths investigated

Kekana says the death of two men was under investigation by the police.

“One fatality involved a 42-year-old man that died during an initiation at an illegal initiation school in Tshwane while a second initiate, a 21-year-old young man, died at a registered school in Ratanda.

“Both cases are still under investigation by the SAPS and 2 suspects have since been arrested,” says Kekana.

PICC stresses importance of monitoring process

“Legislature dictates that the PICC must monitor and evaluate the general functioning of initiation schools during the initiation school period.

“It was during this monitoring process that two fatalities were reported,” says Kekana.

He says nine illegal initiation schools were subsequently closed.

Challenges experienced by monitoring teams

The common challenges experienced by the monitoring teams during the winter period was the following:

  • The abduction and abuse of initiates,
  • The death of initiates at unregistered schools, while
  • Parents withdrew cases because of threats from abductors or principals.
  • Principals of unregistered initiation schools allowing criminal activities including assault, abuse and the distribution of drugs and alcohol to minors.

PICC calls for better planning and consequences for the summer initiation season

“With the summer initiation season now in the planning phase, the committee calls on the relevant departments, law enforcement agencies, and traditional leaders to increase both preventative and consequence management efforts to end the unnecessary and preventative carnage of our initiates.

“The death of two initiates, are two too many. Every effort must therefore be made to ensure the safety of the initiates and to prevent death from becoming normalised.”

PICC on legal initiation schools’ applications

Kekana says the PICC received a total of 87 applications for the registration of legal initiation schools throughout the province.

He said 83 of these applications were for male initiation schools, while four were made for female initiation schools.

“Only six of these applications met the requirements and were successful.”

Police and the Gauteng health department are yet to comment regarding the incidents.


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