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All Initiation Activity in Gauteng Suspended Until Next Year -- CRL Commission

"We need to tighten things up in Gauteng. Things have gone way overboard," the commission's chair Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said on Tuesday.

22/11/2017 05:52 SAST | Updated 22/11/2017 05:52 SAST
MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images
Traditional Xhosa initiate Khanyisile Mapope (R), 18 years old, walks through the bush during a traditional initiation process, in a rural hut on July 13, 2017 in the Coffee Bay area in Umtata, South Africa.

All initiation-related activities across Gauteng have been suspended until December 2018, the Commission for the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission) announced on Tuesday.

"We need to tighten things up in Gauteng. Things have gone way overboard," the commission's chair Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said on Tuesday at the release of a report on the commission's investigation into deaths and injuries at initiation schools around the country.

Some of the activities that were uncovered in Gauteng included initiation schools operating illegally, families being charged exorbitant amounts of money, kidnappings and initiation taking place without parental consent.

Initiation ceremonies in the province are generally held in June, however the suspension is in effect until December 2018.

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said some initiates had gone for initiation and returned as "animals" who attacked their parents.

"There are some gangs that have formed. Some are gangsters because some people think that is the definition of being a man," said Mkhwanazi-Xaluva adding that there was a gang that called themselves "The Guptas.

"Where does manhood fit in here?

"You cannot have a child dying out there, and even here in Gauteng, and then have the (initiation) school bury the child without the parents knowing. We are not a banana republic."

MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images
Traditional Xhosa initiates Fezikhaya Tselane (L), 20 years old, and doctor Sonwabile Madibela (R), 23 years old, rest by the fire during a traditional initiation process, in a rural hut on July 13, 2017 in the Coffee Bay area in Umtata, South Africa.

Initiation policy planned

Chairperson of the initiation monitoring task team Prince George Mahlangu said Gauteng faced a peculiar challenge in that while in rural communities traditional leaders oversaw the process of initiation, in urban areas, which are dominant in the province, these structures are non-existent in most cases.

Mahlangu said there had been three fatalities during the last initiation season in the province and added that the task team supported the suspension as it would save children's lives.

"We are putting together a Gauteng policy that seeks to address all the issues. The policy should culminate into legislation." He said the policy would be comprehensive and ensure that municipal by-laws are adhered to.

He noted that the issues raised were not to do with the process of initiation itself, but the "criminality" around some of the ceremonies.

He said where there was likelihood of illegal initiation schools taking boys in in defiance of the suspension, the monitoring task team would meet with municipalities to create awareness.

A team has been established to ensure that the suspension is observed by all parties.

"We have also involved the SAPS. If we are in an area, there will be sector police involved. There will be consequences."

Once a policy has been finalised and the bill has been drafted, the Gauteng initiation task team will brief the media.

-- News24