GEORGE NEWS - While the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) reported on 28 December 2018 that 34 initiates died throughout the country during the summer initiation season, George Initiation Forum (GIF) was happy to announce that each of its 109 initiates came back alive.
Effort to reduce fatalities
In a statement, the department said of the 34 reported deaths, 20 are from the Eastern Cape, eight from the Free State, three died in North West, two in the Western Cape and one in the Northern Cape.
After a meeting late in December with representatives of the National House of Traditional Leaders and the EC House of Traditional Leaders, Cogta minister Zweli Mkhize said, "I got a distinct feeling that all the leaders and amakhosi we met earlier today are very concerned and care deeply about the lives of the initiates and would want to avoid deaths at all costs.
"Amakhosi are desperate to work with government and medical doctors to curb the deaths which number over 400 since 2012. There was also general consensus to revive and implement the agreement made between amakhosi and government departments, which helped to reduce fatalities in 2015. This is a positive step".
Mkhize will convene another meeting in January "to focus on ensuring zero deaths and mutilation."
Care for our children
Although saddened by the news of the 34 deaths, the chairman of GIF, Mzwandile Gingcana, expressed the forum's pleasure with the good outcome in greater George, adding that a lot needs to be done to ensure that the lives of our children are not put in danger.
"We therefore plead with traditional surgeons and nurses to adhere to the guidelines set out by government and initiation forums regarding the proper conduct of the ritual."
He also appealed to parents to take the necessary measures to safeguard their sons.
"We urge parents to take care of their children when they are in the mountain and to not neglect them or appoint unregistered practitioners."
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