Nearly 400 initiates went for rapid Covid-19 testing in the Chris Hani district before Thursday, which marked the start of the summer initiation season which had been on hold because of the pandemic since the winter season in June.
The Chris Hani Initiation Forum held a sitting with stakeholders on Friday to finalise its district preparation.
Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) speaker Mxolisi Koyo said initiate numbers were uncertain because the winter season did not take place.
“Some parents managed to convince their sons to allow the pandemic to ease off before going for initiation. But, with the season closed in PE, initiates may come here as they have relatives who live in this area.”
Koyo said before the launch an intensive campaign had to be conducted. He added that curbing deaths in the district was part of the initiation risk-adjusted strategy submitted nationally.
“We remind parents again that initiation is the family’s responsibility and the contribution of government is to add resources to strengthen areas of weakness where we note that society is disintegrated and so are families.”
Chris Hani forum chairman Xolela Mbali said sites would be cleaned and tanks distributed by CHDM to supply water to curb dehydration and for hygienic purposes against Covid-19.
Parents were urged to ensure initiates drank sufficient water.
Closing the initiation season led to illegal circumcision taking place in the Enoch Mgijima, Emalahleni, Intsika Yethu and Ngcobo areas.
Mbala said: “We discovered two huts in Ezibeleni and another in Ilinge. A traditional nurse tested positive for Covid-19 while an initiate tested negative in Ilinge. We are waiting for the result because the initiate had to be tested for a second time.” Both are in quarantine.
District health department circumcision coordinator and forum secretary Ayanda Mxekezo advised families to have attendance registers at initiation sites for visitors in for contact tracing.
Mxekezo said those who had co–morbidities were also permitted to undergo circumcision. Rapid Covid-19 testing is compulsory for all initiates and traditional nurses.
“This is to eliminate the chances of the initiates contracting the virus. In the case of an outbreak, health department teams will screen and isolate initiates or take them to a health facility.”
Families were urged to ensure that initiates with medical conditions took their medication on site to avoid complications.
Meanwhile, local house of traditional leaders chairman chief Daluxolo Jezile said only two initiates and one traditional nurse were allowed in a hut, the size of which should be big enough for social distancing.
Celebrations are not permitted when the initiates go home.
“We advise that hand sanitisers should not be taken to sites. An initiate may become dehydrated and use it as a water alternative. Hand sanitisers are also highly flammable and could easily cause a fire in a hut.”