Vaal initiation schools 'breed gangs and rapists'

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities has heard that 532 initiates died in SA between 2006 and 2014. Photo: ALAN EASON
The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities has heard that 532 initiates died in SA between 2006 and 2014. Photo: ALAN EASON

Initiation schools operating in Vaal, south of Johannesburg, have been described as factories for gangs and drug addicts instead of teaching good morals to young men who attend them.

This was said yesterday during the hearings into the deaths of young men at initiation schools. The hearings held in Braamfontein were conducted by the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL).

Appearing before the commission, Vaal TV founder Dipuo Moholane, spoke of how the communities in the Vaal have been terrorised by young men who came back as gangsters from initiation schools.

She said the problem dated back to 2011 and even though the community reported it to authorities, nothing had been done about the problem. This led to community members taking the law into their hands by beating up the gangs and burning their family homes.

She played a video showing young men stripped naked and beaten to a pulp after they were caught allegedly attempting to rape and rob a woman. In another clip it showed another young man who was also stripped naked and beaten after he allegedly tried to rape a woman.

The homes of the young men were also burnt and destroyed by community members. She said 12 houses and five shacks had been burnt in the process.

"All of the gangs that you saw there started in initiation school. Those children went into initiation schools as normal children and came back as gangsters," she said.

She said most of the children were abducted from normal school and taken to the initiation schools.

"They inspect them in the boys bathroom and if they see that they are uncircumcised they abduct them and three weeks later you get information that your child is in initiation school and you need to pay."

She said even though parents had reported their children missing, police just gave them a case number and nothing is done after that.

"If they want your girl child when they come back from initiation school they just walk into your house with guns and take your child and go and rape her."

Moholane said the community was not sure whether these initiation schools were legal or not.

Chairwoman of the commission, Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xalavu, said the government was to blame for allowing the problem to escalate.

She also said there was not enough outrage by society on these initiation schools that turn children into "monsters".

She said parents who had appeared before the commission on Monday spoke of how they were scared of their children who beat them up since they came back from the initiation schools and had also become drug addicts.

"These schools are factories for gangs. We need to find a solution for parents who have children who have come out of age, a strategy that is scientific... We need to deal with criminals," Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said.

macupeb@sowetan.co.za

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