INITIATION SCHOOL SHUTDOWN WESTERN CAPE

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20 FEBRUARY 2024

INITIATION SCHOOL SHUTDOWN WESTERN CAPE

The Western Cape Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committee (WCPICC) has been established under section 11 of the Customary Initiation Act, No 2 of 2021. WCPICC strives to ensure that every initiation school is legal and in compliance with the Act as well as to prevent initiate deaths.

The Minister of the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport and the WCPICC wishes to commend all schools that have complied with the Act and submitted their applications to the WCPICC. This past summer season, initiation schools from the following districts participated in the rites of passage: Cape Metro, Cape Winelands, Central Karoo, Garden Route, Overberg, and West Coast, with an estimated 1500 initiates completing the rites of passage.

The support that the custodians of the Customary Initiation practice have received from municipalities through the provision of land, water, sanitation and refuse services is greatly appreciated. In addition, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Cape Nature Conservation provided access to additional sites; the Department of Health and Wellness provided emergency support services and were on hand in case of any disaster, as well as free health screenings before the school started.  A special thanks to the Initiation Forums and members of Contralesa who ensured a safe rite of passage.

The summer initiation season of 2023 was not without challenges. The Western Cape recorded three (3) fatalities during the summer initiation season of 2023. In the wake of the passing of the three initiates, the WCPICC filed criminal cases with the South African Police Service in accordance with Section 33(1) of the Act. The cases are still in the investigation phase, and no further updates are currently available.

Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport Anroux Marais said: “While we worked with our partners to provide all the training and support we could muster, the fact is that three precious Western Cape lives were lost. I convey my deepest empathy to the families and loved ones of the departed. Following each of the three deaths, criminal charges were laid with the police and those cases are continuing.

We also closed down several illegal initiation sites, and laid criminal charges against those running these illegal initiation schools. In the run-up to the winter initiation season, we will ensure even stricter compliance with the law, and will follow a pro-active zero tolerance policy against everybody and anybody who endanger the lives of our people in the Western Cape by flouting the laws governing initiation.”

The WCPICC encourages all initiation schools and Forums to comply with the Act by submitting their applications early for the upcoming winter initiation season. The preparatory phase commenced on 1 February to the start of the winter season starting on 1 May 2024. Forums and initiation schools are encouraged to work together with the WCPICC monitors to effectively monitor the upcoming winter initiation season to ensure the wellbeing of the initiates and to ensure zero fatalities

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