Two initiates die in Eastern Cape

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By Anita Dangazele

Two initiates at illegal initiation schools in Ngqeleni and Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape’s OR Tambo region have died. 

Their deaths were confirmed on Sunday by the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) 

The initiate who died in Port St Johns on Friday had allegedly complained of thirst and shortness of breath before he died. The circumstances around the death of the second initiate in Ngqeleni are unclear at this time.

Contralesa secretary Zolani Mkiva confirmed both deaths and said a traditional surgeon and two caregivers have been arrested in connection with the death of the Port St Johns initiate.

“Those that were responsible for the second initiate have not yet been arrested,” he said.

Mkiva urged members of the community to take a stand against fake initiation schools.

“Contralesa can’t be everywhere,” he said. “People are operating in dark corners.”

He said they only get to know that an initiate from a bogus initiation school is in a critical condition when he is brought forward.

“And most of the time it is too late to do anything,” he said. 

He said the issue of dehydration is a serious problem because initiates are told not to drink water in the bogus schools.

In the summer initiation period between December 2023 and January 2024, 30 initiates lost their lives in the Eastern Cape.

Contralesa has also warned against the kidnapping of young boys by initiation schools and said some initiation schools pay other boys to abduct initiates.

In Mahikeng in the North West, a 12-year-old boy was kidnapped from school and taken to an initiation school.

Contralesa president Chief Lameck Mokoena said they have teamed up with law enforcement agencies to combat the kidnappings.

“If it is discovered that kids have been taken by force, we will act harshly,” Mokoena said. 

“We are friends with the courts to ensure that those responsible are punished severely.” 

Pictured above: A group of traditional initiates on a hike.

Source: X

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