Eastern Cape’s department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs and the province’s House of Traditional Leaders launched the summer initiation season in Queenstown on Friday.
The launch saw City Press partner with local leaders to reduce the number of young men who die in the province in illegal initiation schools, and the number of men who are maimed for life.
Cooperative Governance MEC Fikile Xasa called on everyone involved in the tradition to take responsibility – especially traditional leaders, who are the custodians of the rite.
“I am going to write a letter to all the traditional leaders, including ward councillors in urban areas where there are no chiefs, to ask them to sign a pledge that in their areas no initiate will die,” Xasa said.
Nkosi Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, chairperson of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, said parents should ensure that when they choose traditional nurses [amakhankatha], they should be older, experienced men who are able to impart knowledge and wisdom to initiates about the responsibilities of men in society.
“We have a serious problem when it comes to amakhankatha. These should be responsible men who have wives and are in good standing in society; [men] who will treat initiates as their children. We should not allow young men to be traditional nurses because they have nothing good to teach initiates except to smoke dagga and drink alcohol,” Matanzima said.
At the event, City Press editor in chief Mondli Makhanya said while it was important for media to report on the deaths of initiates, it also needed to highlight positive interventions the government and traditional leaders were making.
A web app built by City Press in partnership with Code for Africa and Open Data Durban enables parents and initiates to check whether the traditional surgeons they have chosen are registered with the provincial department of health, or find someone who is. It also enables users to report unregistered surgeons and illegal initiation schools, as well as initiates who are in trouble.
Check out the web app here: http://app.ezolwaluko.org.za