Traditional Leaders Vow to Defy Traditional Circumcision Act

News  East Cape News (Grahamstown, South Africa). Friday, 26 October 2001.

Sam Mkokeli

Traditional leaders yesterday (subs: fri) rejected the newly passed traditional circumcision act with contempt as it allowed for the involvement of women in the traditionally exclusively male ritual.

Eastern Cape House of Traditional leaders chairperson Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana said traditional leaders were very disappointed that the bill had been passed as an act by the Bisho legislature on Thursday.

Chief Nonkonyana said he would be the first to defy it in December when his son would undergo the traditional rite.

He said other traditional authorities would also defy it.

They can put me in jail, I'm not going to compromise on that. He said the government followed churches that brought about their own version of circumcision which was not related to the traditional ritual.

He said the act had now brought about a third-type of circumcision.

He called it the department of health circumcision.

We cannot allow women, particularly those that are breastfeeding to fiddle with our boys genitals.

I even doubt if that act is constitutional. It's a load of rubbish and we reject it with the contempt it deserves.

He said the act undermined the public's right to preform traditional customs.

The first time I saw that bill I was so positive, but now when I read it, I can't believe my eyes.

He said he would take the issue up with Premier Makhenkesi Stofile, legislature Speaker Mkhangeli Matomela and Traditional Affairs Standing Committee chairperson Themba Manyosi.

He said the bill was sent to the house of traditional leaders for consideration and they had filed their objections to it.

However, the act was passed this week despite their objections.

They (govt) sent the bill to us for the sake of sending it.

He said the act was now called the Application of Health Standards in Traditional Circumcision instead of the traditional circumcision act.

He suggested a national Indaba be held to discuss the issues around traditional circumcision.

Acting Health MEC Max Mamase said Nonkonyana was part of a group of chauvinists who defied environmental change.

Mamase said the discrimination against women was unfair and that Nonkonyana's statement had no substance.

There are men that were circumcised by female doctors in hospitals and they are men amongst us.

He said the house of traditional leaders was one of the stakeholders that were consulted before the bill was passed.

The fact that they had filed objections to it did not mean that it would not be passed.

Mamase said Nonkonyana would not be charged for contravening the act if he defied it as it was meant to guide thosewho saw it as helpful.


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