ANC must act now to stop the killing of young initiates

06 July 2015 - 02:08 By The Times Editorial

How many more of our youngsters must die before action is taken? Must an entire generation succumb to the greedy elders who operate the initiation schools? These questions should trouble our elected representatives, who have the power to clamp down on this crime but are afraid to do so. The government has the power to enforce laws that should safeguard the lives of young boys across the country.About fourteen young initiates have already lost their lives so far this season.We expect our government to stop holding talks and to start arresting those behind illegal initiation schools. Why is it so difficult to stop this daylight murder of our boys?Back in 2013, following the deaths of 30 youngsters in Eastern Cape as a result of circumcision-related injuries, the ruling party said the "authorities can no longer pay lip service to dealing with this disaster that afflicts our nation during the traditional initiation season". It promised strong action, with Jackson Mthembu , the then the ANC spokesman, saying: "Our nation cannot wither and be dealt such a blow of losing the young who have so much to offer to their families and our nation as whole."But, two years later, we are back to where we were before.We will never be able to stop these killings when we adopt a soft approach to matters that require strong action against traditional leaders. Some of these illegal schools operate on tribal land and the authorities know who to arrest if there are deaths.We first need to provide all those who run initiation schools with basic medical training, and ensure that all schools and their personnel are accredited by a competent institution.Traditional leaders should be part of the monitoring and evaluation system.Those who act outside these structures should be prosecuted and, if a death occurs, they should be charged with murder.We must act now.

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