SPECIAL REPORT | An end to initiation horrors?

The government will now screen initiation school operators for criminal records and discourage the use of alcohol in the mountain, while imposing stiffer sentences on illegal operators.

Early last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the long-awaited Customary Initiation Bill into the Customary Initiation Act (CIT) which was gazetted on Friday. It is hoped that will tighten screws and bring order in the troubled rite of passage, which has seen many initiates lose their lives because of botched circumcisions.

We welcome the Customary Initiation Act. We hope it will save the lives of young men undergoing initiation and regulate the process.

In Eastern Cape it is a taboo to involve Western medication or medical practitioners in the care of initiates. An initiate who has been cared for by Western-trained doctors or nurses in a case of an emergency will not be considered a “real man”.

Nelson Ngonini of Qumbu, Eastern Cape, recollects how the lives of his two sons were turned upside down to a point where they faced losing their penises after the physical abuse they were subjected to at an initiation school in 2016.

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