It is alarming to realise that; parents in the Eastern Cape; literally send their children to die in the mountains; all in the name of culture and tradition.
Surely each culture should revolve with the times. Why pay people to harm your child when hospitals and clinics can do the ritual; afterwards a healed boy can go to the mountain to learn to becone a man.
This year alone; saw 11 initiates die; at various initiation schools; in the Eastern Cape; and government's reaction was to put the blame on parents' door.
According to the Eastern Cape Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs; Minister; Xolile Nqatha; parents are to blame for the deaths of 11 initiates; who passed away; during this year's winter initiation season.
It is not clear how Nqatha arrived at that reasoning; but he revealed that 11 initiates died; while a total of 119; were admitted to hospital; these numbers are huge; especially because these are young healthy boys.
Nqatha; was responding to a question by DA MPL; Sanele Magaqa; during Wednesday's provincial legislature meeting.
According to Nqatha; the initiates died due to dehydration; septicemia and gangrene. The 119 initiates; who survived; were admitted to hospitals; due to initiation-related complications.
When people handle vast amounts of children fail to see that their wounds have become septic and the initiates have become dehydrated; surely they are not fully equipped to handle the health and safety aspect of the initiation.
Nqatha clearly shirked the responsibilty of government; of regulating initiation schools in the Eastern Cape; when he put the blame on parents.
He said all the deaths were caused by negligence on the part of parents or persons who are assigned to take full responsibility for the initiates; and went on to count the municipalities that had fatalities and hospitalizations.
However; Magaqa was not going to take matters lying down; when he said the initiation season; must be a time of celebration for families; not that of loss and grieving.
Magaqa called Nqatha out; for recklessly blaming parents or persons assigned to take full responsibility for the initiates; for the deaths.
Magaqa said Nqatha is shirking government's responsibility and pointed out that they have; time and again; failed to accept that the interventions Nqetha's department put in place; are falling short.
Magaqa schooled Nqatha on how he should go about doing his job; saying that; these schools play a key role in the amaXhosa cultural heritage; which calls for collaboration between government and society.
Magaqa called for better enforcement of the Customary Initiation Act; saying; circumcision should never lead to death or mutilation.
He sent Nqatha to engage with the Provincial Initiation Coordination Committee; to assess what went wrong; in order to find workable solutions to ensure the safety of the children.
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