||South Africa: Millions Set Aside to Support Initiation Schools
||Friday, June 13, 2014
Information Access, Government Portal, Citizens’ Service Delivery, E-Government
||Jun 13, 2014
“Our national budget for male circumcision is R385 million for 2014/15 financial year and of this amount R180 million has been set aside for the process of initiation schools.
“As you can see it means R20 million per province, we are not going to give that money in cash to any province or traditional leader, but is available to support all their programmes,” he said on Thursday.
Minister Motsoaledi further said deaths of initiates in recent years in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga warranted serious intervention by government and other relevant stakeholders to stop unnecessary injuries and deaths.
He said his department support includes providing health screening for all initiates at approved legal initiation schools and providing any medical consumables to support the initiation monitoring team with transport.
Minister Motsoaledi said they have also reached a consensus with the custodian of the cultural practices, the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa), that they can choose professional circumcision doctors specifically those not working for government to help them with screening of the boys, circumcision process, as well as after care.
General practitioners at initiation schools
The minister said there are currently eight general practitioners directly contracted to his department in Limpopo who are providing medical male circumcision at initiation schools.
According to the minister, last year in Limpopo, between July and August, the health practitioners conducted 22 325 circumcision with zero deaths recorded.
He said eight more general practitioners are working with traditional leaders in Mpumalanga’s 27 initiation schools, while five are working in the OR Tambo district in the Eastern Cape.
“Those initiation schools who were working with the general practitioners in the previous initiation school season, no deaths occurred,” he said.
Illegal initiation schools
Minister Motsoaledi made it clear that bogus traditional surgeons and their illegal initiation schools will never be covered by his safe male circumcision budget, government and traditional leader’s deaths free partnership.
“As government we regard the establishment of illegal initiation school as a criminal activity and it must be dealt with in the manner in which criminals are dealt with,” he said.
Deaths at initiation schools
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister responsible for Traditional Affairs, Obed Bapela, said four deaths have been reported since the beginning of this year’s initiation school season.
According to Deputy Minister Bapela, three initiates died in Mpumalanga, while one died in the Eastern Cape.
“In Mpumalanga, one died in the Nkangala District as a result of dehydration, while the other two died in Verena as a result of diabetes and pneumonia because there was no prior-screening conducted before the initiates were enrolled at the school.
“An investigation is underway to determine if the initiation schools were legal or not, but if they were legal, questions should be asked why did they fail to screen the boys and avoid the unnecessary deaths of the boys,” he said.
Deputy Minister Bapela said the 17-year-old boy in King Sabatha District, in the Eastern Cape, died of hunger and dehydration in an illegal initiation school after he was forced to be circumcised by a traditional surgeon by a group of boys. One boy who was forced to be circumcised is still admitted at the local hospital.
“A case has been opened, we know the traditional surgeon, very soon an arrest will be taking place and through these measures we want to show that government wants this cultural practice to be done with care, love and in a very responsible way.
“If you are a bogus traditional surgeon, don’t think government is going to leave you. We are going to arrest you and ensure that there is prosecution,” he said.
Deputy Minister Bapela said he will visit the provinces to ensuring strict adherence to safe circumcision at initiation schools, using Limpopo’s zero deaths model.
“I will be in the Eastern Cape on Friday, June 20, where I will meet the MEC for Local Government and Traditional Leaders to deliberate on how best we can deal with the issue of illegal initiation schools.
“My visits to the provinces will also be part of the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department’s campaign to promote zero tolerance at initiation schools,” he said.
Hotline to report illegal schools
Deputy Minister Bapela has urged citizens to report any suspicion of illegal schools or bogus traditional surgeons by calling his department on 082 822 5878 or 012 935 or the chairperson of the National Task Team, Kgoshi Mahlangu, on 071 461 0475.
Initiation practice the pride of SA
Deputy Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Kgoshi Sefogole Makgeru said: “This practice remains the pride of our people; this is a proud moment of the House and the nation at large. This culture is very strong, thanks to government intervention.
“The House would like to express its gratitude to government for the support it has given over the years.
“We also want to use this opportunity to welcome all our boys into the new world, the world of promise, the world of pride, where manhood is to be instilled.”
Kgoshi Makgeru also urged parents and guardians to safeguard the lives of their boys by avoid taking them to illegal initiation schools.