Hearings to prevent death, maiming under way

Vusi Ndlovu

Vusi Ndlovu

A member of the council of Ndebele initiation schools in Tembisa, East Rand, was grilled this week on the way the traditional schools were run.

Titus Kgatoke, secretary of Ibandla Lase Tembisa, was speaking at the last leg of the public hearings, which began on Monday.

The hearings were organised by the Human Rights Commission (HRC), the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) and the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL).

Kgatoke refused to answer some of the questions put to him, saying the traditions were secret.

Though he admitted that they charged parents of the initiates, he would not divulge the amount.

He was dismayed to learn that the education department had books about initiation schools.

"This is demeaning our culture. I am appalled to hear that the department of education has books about the secrets of the culture," Kgatoke said.

The HRC's Tom Manthata said it was difficult to get information from people running the initiation schools because of its tradition of secrecy.

Prince Zukisile Makaula of the NHTL said unemployment had contributed to unqualified people opening initiation schools.

The HRC, CRL and NHTL embarked on a national crusade to come up with solutions to the death of initiates at circumcision schools.

Deaths at the initiation schools are caused by botched circumcisions and alleged beatings.

The sitting continues today.