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15/02/2018 10:12 SAST | Updated 15/02/2018 10:22 SAST

Traditional Leaders On 'Inxeba': 'We Are Not Homophobic, But...'

South Africa's Congress of Traditional Leaders played a major role in the effective banning of "Inxeba (The Wound)".

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Xhosa initiates pass by close to the funeral of Nelson Mandela, Qunu, South Africa, 14 December 2014.

Provincial chairman of Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa), Prince Manene Tabane, on Wednesday alleged that the sexual scenes in "Inxeba (The Wound)" were "something that does not happen in initiation schools".

Tabane was speaking at the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Committee) meeting to discuss the film.

"We are not homophobic," he claimed.

He said Contralesa had nothing against people in the LGBTI+ community, but they have to stay focused on the "reason" why they are at initiation school.

"It is the same for those who are gays an lesbians – we are not saying we do not want them there," he alleged, "[but] let's stick to what we are there for."

He said that Contralesa had been aware of the movie since last year, and the congress had engaged in talks with the movie's producers through the commission, but their demands fell on deaf ears. This led to the protest action when the film had its premier at cinemas.

One of Contralesa's demands was that the movie have a disclaimer to explain that it was not a "true representation of what really happens in initiation school".

Read: Xhosa And Zulu Kings 'Feel Insulted' By Queer Film

Tabane also said the film would discourage those who were contemplating going to initiation school, and alleged that it "disrespects women".

"It says to the people who are going to this cultural practice: 'You need not go to initiation school; you rather go to hospital'," he said.

"We are not respecting women – the language that is used here; talking about the private parts of women – at the end of the day it will be seen as if it is teaching these boys to undermine their own parents," he added.

The National House of Traditional Leaders' Ikosi Mahlangu criticised the age limit initially set for the movie.

"What we are seeing today made me cringe a bit – the language that was used was just bad; the graphic images, the sexual ones were scary," Mahlangu claimed.

"This movie is rated to be watched by 16-year-olds. How can we allow your 16-year-old to watch it? That makes you crazy; I do agree with those who say this movie must be stopped," he said.

The appeal tribunal of the South Africa Film and Publication Board (FPB) announced on Wednesday morning that the film had officially been banned from playing at mainstream South African cinemas, and could now be screened only at "designated adult premises", as if it were pornography.

He claimed that despite the movie's international success, it was "destroying" Zulu culture.

"Yes, it has won awards, that's good – but for us to have our culture destroyed like this, I think we need to put a stop to this. And by putting a stop to it, we are saying let it be stopped with immediate effect."