News / South Africa

Vicky Abraham
2 minute read
8 Mar 2017
5:41 am

CRL commission reveals ‘shocking’ initiation death toll

Vicky Abraham

The CRL Rights Commission revealed that 774 initiates died across the eight provinces between 2006 and 2016.

Initiates seen at a circumcision school in Mthatha, South Africa. Picture: Gallo Images/City Press/Denvor de Wee

About 251 male youths died between 2014 and 2016 at initiation schools in eight provinces, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities said on Tuesday.

It said 557 deaths were reported between 2006 and 2014, bringing the total to 774.

Over 36 weeks between 2014 and 2016, 199 deaths were recorded in the Eastern Cape, 10 in the Free State, six in the Northern Cape, six in Gauteng, eight in Limpopo, eight in Mpumalanga, seven in North West and seven in the Western Cape.

However, the figure could be higher as many youngsters are believed to have died at initiation schools, with no proper burials conducted.

The deaths are not registered at the department of home affairs. Between 2006 and 2014, police made 260 arrests of alleged perpetrators of such crimes.

But the commission said no prosecutions had been recorded. The commission has summoned different organs of state, including the National Prosecuting Authority, to answer for nonprosecution of perpetrators that resulted in the deaths of 774 young males.

The police, department of home affairs, department of social development and traditional healers are among those summoned.

On Tuesday, families of the survivors, who wished not to be named, shared gruesome details of their tales before the commission.

It emerged their children were abducted and taken to initiation schools without their consent, while others said it was due to peer pressure and to escape bullying at normal schools.

A family member of a 16-year-old boy who allegedly died at an initiation school said her son was abducted, returned home ill, went back to the initiation school, died and was buried there.

But the family have not been allowed to see his body.

Other parents said their sons had become delinquents and drug addicts, were rebellious, dropped out of school and assault their parents following their return from initiation schools.

A 16-year-old boy said: “I was beaten up for not singing the songs properly.

“We were not given proper water to drink and drank water from the graves.

“We cooked food, but we were not allowed to eat.

“They made us smoke dagga,” he said.

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