Iniation Schools Closed [in Limpopo]

News  South Africa Press Association. Friday, 28 June 2002.

Polokwane (Pietersburg) - The External link Limpopo provincial government had by Friday closed down a total of eight illegal initiation schools after a boy from the Mokgolobotho village initiation school died last weekend.

The Limpopo closures follow the deaths earlier this week of five initiates, the hospitalisation of more than 50 and the closure of two initiation schools in the Heidelberg area.

Lucky Nchabeleng, a spokesperson for the MEC in the premier's office, said the owner of the school in Mokgolobotho village where the initiate had died, was arrested on Wednesday.

All the schools that the province closed were operating without approval from the province as stipulated in the 1994 traditional circumcision schools act, Nchabeleng said.

Nchabeleng also said 21 initiates were taken to hospital from an initiation school in Khtjwana village and another 53 initiates from Mokgolobotho were also hospitalised.

These schools... were illegal.

70 legal schools

We have about 70 legal schools in the province and there's no reports that anyone has died at them, Nchabeleng said.

According to Nchabeleng, the initiates, many of whose wounds were septic and bloody, had been exposed to extreme cold and had even been denied access to water in some cases.

In the legal schools there is a certain degree of involvement of modern medical equipment, they use knifes but those knifes have been sterilised, he added.

Meanwhile, SABC news reported on Friday that the Congress of Traditional Leaders in South Africa (Contralesa) criticised the Limpopo government for closing down the schools.

Contralesa reportedly said the government acted irresponsibly and that the perpetrators should have been punished instead of closing down the schools.

Setlamorago Thobejane, chairperson of Contralesa, reportedly complained that the schools were closed without Contralesa or the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) being consulted.

The NHTL earlier said that they had long been asking the External link Gauteng government to take measures to stop the mushrooming of schools and people posing as ingcubi (surgeons).

According to NHTL, the problem could only be solved if traditional leaders, together with government, developed a national Act that controlled the running of the schools.

No problem with tradition

But according to Nchabeleng, the legislature, at least in the Limpopo province, was already in place and the task at hand was monitoring the schools and closing down illegal ones.

We as the government have no problem with this tradition... we think it is one of the core values of African culture which must be upheld.

But we have a problem when people carry out tradition in a way that impacts on human rights.

We cannot afford to live with this as the government because the government is the custodian of the people.

These people are dying because when they get circumcised there is no medication to sterilise the instruments.

We feel there must be co-operation here between government and tradition, Nchabeleng said.


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