Traditional authorities respond to initiation school deaths

The first death report for the winter initiation period has been filed in the Eastern Cape after three initiates died in a hut fire.

According to police, the three died in Mdantsane, outside East London, on Tuesday after the hut they were inside caught fire.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) spokesperson Mamkeli Ngam confirmed the deaths, and said the department is trying to establish the cause of the incident.


“One out of the three initiates died at the scene of the fire, while the other two were rushed to Cecilia Makiwane Hospital with severe burns. However, they succumbed to their injuries,” said Ngam.

Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committee chairperson Fikile Xasa said the committee will keep the families of the deceased initiates in their thoughts as they mourn the loss of their children.

“Last year in July, the committee conducted an oversight visit to the Eastern Cape during the winter season. In its engagements with National Initiation Oversight Committee (NIOC) and the Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committee, it stressed the importance of education.”

Meanwhile, Cogta minister Thembi Nkadimeng is expected to launch the NIOC Customary Initiation Act awareness campaign on Friday.

Under this year’s theme “Preserving lives, Promoting customs”, Nkadimeng said the initiative is a collaborative effort between the National and Provincial Initiation Oversight Committees, government departments, traditional leaders, and various stakeholders.

“The main purpose of the campaign is to protect lives and prevent all forms of abuse that initiates may be subjected to because of unacceptable initiation practices,” said Nkadimeng.


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