Decision on initiation pending

INITIATION SUMMER SEASON: Cogta MEC Xolila Nqatha has indicated that all hands are on deck to ensure initiates’ safety in preparation for the summer initiation season Picture: SUPPLIED

The Eastern Cape executive council (Exco) will be making a submission to the national government detailing its plans to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, in preparation for customary male initiation summer season.

The Chris Hani district is one of the areas with the highest number of initiate deaths in the province, especially during the summer season, and the local government is also encouraged to play its role to ensure initiates’ safety.

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Xolile Nqatha indicated that preparations for the initiation, ulwaluko in isiXhosa, summer season were ready for execution.

“There are plans in place flowing from the consultation processes that we undertook with key stakeholders throughout the province.

“As the Exco we have deliberated on the matter and will make our comprehensive submission detailing our plans to alleviate the spread of the coronavirus. Once we have made our submission to the national government, we hope it will pave the way towards the opening of the summer season under strict adherence to Covid-19 regulations and health protocols. We want to ensure that the customary initiation practice ensues in a manner that preserves human life,” said Nqatha.

The stakeholders that were consulted by Exco include district municipalities and metropolitans, traditional initiation forums, traditional leaders, Inkolo kaNtu, South African Council of Churches, sector departments, Saps, NGOs and the National Prosecuting Authority.

Nqatha said the stakeholders were in support of the preparations towards the readiness for the summer initiation season, while committing both their human and financial resources to ensure this happened.

He added that given the Covid-19 pandemic, parents, families, traditional leaders and communities at large needed to play their roles to save lives and the dignity of the customary practice.

Last week during the Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) ordinary council meeting, chief Xolela Mbali warned at the gathering that the initiation season had not been officially opened yet.

“I urge that we respect the law and not take our sons to mountains. There are talks about a temporary closure of initiation schools as most usually house more than 400 initiates in one building. They could be detrimental to the curbing of the spread of the coronavirus as sticking to health practice is quite an expensive task.

“Our district has a history of initiates’ deaths even before the Covid-19 so as traditional leaders and government we will be taking very strict measures to ensure the safety of our children hence the delay in the decision to open the summer season.”

Mbali said the initiation practice was their pride and identity hence it had to be protected by men and women alike to ensure no child died this season.

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