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Eastern Cape records highest number of initiate deaths this season

28 December 2018 - 10:43 By TimesLIVE
A circumcision traditional nurse leads a group of amakrwala back to their village.
A circumcision traditional nurse leads a group of amakrwala back to their village.

The Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zwelini Mkhize, this week met with Eastern Cape traditional leaders to discuss ways to curb further initiate deaths in the traditional ulwaluko ritual.

The country has seen a spike in deaths of initiates, particularly in the Eastern Cape.

This season, 34 deaths have been reported, 20 of them in the Eastern Cape. Eight initiates died in the Free State, three in North West, two in the Western Cape and one in the Northern Cape.

Mkhize’s office said the minister held a productive meeting with representatives of the National House of Traditional Leaders and the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders on the sidelines of the Xhosa Carnival celebrations, hosted by King Zwelonke Sigcau. The meeting took place at the Nqadu Great Place in Willowvale on Thursday.

Mkhize said in a statement: “I got a distinct feeling that all the leaders and amakhosi we met... are very concerned and care deeply about the lives of the initiates and would want to avoid deaths by all costs.”

“Amakhosi are desperate to work with government and medical doctors to curb the deaths, which number over 400 since 2012.

“There was also general consensus to revive and implement the agreement made between amakhosi and government departments which helped to reduce fatalities in 2015. This is a positive step,” said Mkhize.

The minister will convene another meeting “to focus on ensuring zero deaths and mutilation”, his office said.

This meeting is scheduled for the second week in January 2019.