While the Eastern Cape suffered 17 initiate deaths this winter season, Chris Hani District Municipality has been exempted. However, three amputations along with seven illegal initiation cases were recorded.
The province had 17 deaths, with the OR Tambo District leading with 15.
Last year CHDM had two deaths in the winter season and seven in the summer.
CHDM spokesperson Thobeka Mqamelo said out of the 991 initiates who underwent the rite, 112 were treated on the spot through the assistance of the initiation stakeholders.
She said the work of the initiation task teams had played a great role in saving the lives of 24 initiates by having them admitted to hospital, despite the resistance they met from some community members.
The initiation forums consisted of traditional leaders, nurses, municipal councillors, the police and non-governmental organisations.
Mqamelo said the number of undesirable acts and incidents which were identified reflected that more work needed to be done and included cases of some initiates not having doctors’ certificates.
The other pressing issue was traditional surgeons who were charged for committing illegal initiation practices.
“There are five pending cases being investigated by the police, which range from under-age initiates, no certification, and de-registered traditional surgeons who still operated illegally,” she said.
Traditional leader and chairperson of the CHDM initiation forum councillor, Xolela Mbali, said, “We are pleased that we averted deaths during this season, but we are not entirely happy. We still have amputations, under-age boys undergoing initiation and community members protesting and supporting illegal traditional surgeons.
“We did not have a very high number of problems as it is winter. The bigger problem is during the summer season when we experience many incidents of dehydration and illegal initiates who come with consent certificates from other provinces and a very high number of initiates. We need co-operation from parents and all members of the community. The initiation forums will resume their education and awareness campaigns in schools, churches and communities in preparation for the summer initiation season.”