“Every Year”: Initiate Dies at Eastern Cape Winter Initiation School, SA Not Surprised

“Every Year”: Initiate Dies at Eastern Cape Winter Initiation School, SA Not Surprised

  • The Eastern Cape has recorded one death so far since the start of the winter initiation season
  • The initiate's death has been linked to a possible bogus initiation school in the Mzamomhle area
  • Online users were critical of the continuation of the practice in the province, mainly due to the alarming deaths
An initiate dies at Eastern Cape winter circumcision school
Initiates in the Eastern Cape participate in winter initiation schools, but the practice remains controversial in the province. Image: Per-Anders Pettersson
Source: Getty Images

BUFFALO CITY — An initiate has died at an Eastern Cape winter initiation school in the Buffalo City Metro.

It is the first death recorded since the province's winter initiation season kicked off.

Plague of illegal initiation schools

According to a SABC News report, the local Initiation Committee has since paid a compassionate visit to the dead initiate's bereaved family.

The initiate's age is unknown to Briefly News, and it is unclear whether the initiation school where the death occurred on Thursday, 13 June, is bogus.

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However, Buffalo City Metro Municipality spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said the agency was concerned about the rising number of illegal circumcisions.

“The metro is concerned about the 24 initiates currently in the Mzamomhle area, and 92% do not have the documents permitting them to be initiated. We call on the community to monitor the minds of the children going to the bush and disallow those whose parents do not accompany them."

IOL reported last year that the deaths of the 35 initiates during the 2023 Eastern Cape summer period represented an increase after only 22 deaths the previous year.

Some bogus initiation schools shut down

In the article, chairperson of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, Professor David Mosoma, linked the deaths to illegal initiation schools.

He said illegal initiation schools remained a challenge despite the government declaring that bogus traditional surgeons be arrested and their schools closed.

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Several had since been shut down.

“Though we don’t have the official report, several illegal initiation schools were closed in the Eastern Cape, and their owners were arrested,” said Mosoma.

Mzansi unsurprised by development

Briefly News looked through the comments on social media.

Many netizens criticized the continuation of the practice, saying it was high time it was obsolete.

@Nhlez Enzokuhle Sobethu said:

"I honestly don't understand why the parents are still allowing their boys to attend this thing because it seems they are sacrificed every year."

@Mabunda Image noted:

"It should be banned in EC. Each year, they experience death tolls."

@Solethu Soh Mthembu wrote:

"Cutting-edge province."

@Thapelo Chef offered:

"Those who say this rite must be scrapped should one day visit the deep rural Xhosa villages and townships and tell them to their face and see what will happen."

@Simon Mogohloane mentioned:

"Eastern Cape. In Limpopo such doesn't happen."

Read also

Limpopo initiation tragedy: Three deaths stir public outcry

138 Boys freed from Gauteng bogus initiation schools

In recent related news, Briefly News reported that two boys lost their lives and 138 others were rescued from illegal initiation schools in Gauteng.

The province's Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department said most of the initiates were abducted.

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Source: Briefly News

Tshepiso Mametela avatar

Tshepiso Mametela Tshepiso Mametela is a seasoned journalist with eight years of experience writing for online and print publications. He is an evening/weekend editor at Briefly News. He was a general news reporter for The Herald, a senior sports contributor at Opera News SA, and a reporter for Caxton Local Media’s Bedfordview and Edenvale News and Joburg East Express community titles. He has attended media workshops, including the crime and court reporting one by the Wits Justice Project and Wits Centre for Journalism in 2024. He was a member of the Forum of Community Journalists (FCJ) from 2018 to 2020.