CRL Rights Commission recommends that specialised courts be established to deal with initiates' deaths

Young men after a successful initiation ceremony in the Eastern Cape.
Young men after a successful initiation ceremony in the Eastern Cape.
Image: Daily Dispatch

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) has recommended that specialised courts must be established to deal with initiates' deaths in the Eastern Cape.

The commission also wants government to shut down all illegal initiation schools in the province immediately as the death toll increases.

So far, 34 initiates have died at both legal and illegal initiation schools, the commission said at a media briefing on Thursday.

“... that specialised courts be introduced to fast track charges and prosecutions to deal with initiation related crimes,” said the Chapter 9 institution chairperson Prof David Mosoma.

The recommendations come after meetings the commission held with different stakeholders in the province on Tuesday.

He said hotspots of the deaths and botched circumcisions are in the Alfred Nzo district municipality and OR Tambo.

“We have come to a cross road. No nation rights itself by committing genocide,” said Mosoma.

“The initiation task team, local municipalities, traditional leaders and others must ensure that such schools are closed down.” 

He said provincial leadership must ensure rescue centres are erected for initiates to finish their course.

Mosoma said it is up to various stakeholders such as royal families, traditional leaders and government to ensure that initiation schools follow correct procedures.

“The buck stops with the kings and queens, traditional leaders and government,” said Mosoma.

The commission has made these additional recommendations:

  • That all deaths must be accounted for and those responsible must be held accountable;
  • Security agents must be deployed to identify the schools and possible impending disasters;
  • The current risk adjustment strategy must be enforced;
  • All technical support teams should meet urgently to strategise the disaster of Covid-19 at the schools and the deaths;
  • For kings and queens go get timely reports on what is happening in their areas for interventions to easily take place, and to know through a report from traditional leaders on the state of readiness before initiation season;
  • That participation of women in the EC must continue to assist the smooth process of initiation;
  • The EC MEC of Social Development must FasTrack the issue of the breakdown if family with absent fathers who leave single mothers struggle to find a male relative who can take charge of the initiation process; and
  • The province must approach government to resolve the challenges of unfunded money, meaning that legislation has been passed without being allocated resources to be implemented.

“The deaths have bought untold pain in many families and the nation at large by robbing them of their sons in their prime of their youth and the nation prospective artisans, thinkers, doctors, teachers, leaders and future husband's,” Mosoma said.

He said the commission will keep a watchful eye on the province as the initiation season continues.

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