Traditional leaders work with university on Covid plan for summer rite

24 October 2020 - 10:50 By Lulamile Feni
With Walter Sisulu University's help, all those involved in initiation rites would be closely monitored from December and January.
With Walter Sisulu University's help, all those involved in initiation rites would be closely monitored from December and January.
Image: FILE

The Eastern Cape house of traditional leaders has worked with Walter Sisulu University to develop a plan to lower Covid-19 risks ahead of the summer initiation season.

ECHTL acting chair Nkosi Langa Mavuso said the plan included establishing Covid-19 health protocols and a health support programme.

He said the provincial government and ECHTL had been inundated with calls from  people calling for the summer season to be opened.

''With the great social distress culminating from the effects of national lockdown, people are now of the view that with the advent of the eased lockdown the 2020 summer initiation window will be opened. The provincial government and ECHTL have a clear understanding of the intricacies and potent risks associated with Covid-19,” he said.

“As such, WSU has been engaged as a strategic technical partner. This is due to WSU’s capacity to deal with complex clinical and scientific factors related to the fight against Covid-19.''

With WSU's help, all those involved in initiation rites would be closely monitored from December and January.

Cogta deputy minister  Obed Bapela recently told the SABC that the rite would be opened under very strict conditions.

“The minister of Cogta and the health minister agreed that they will allow for the opening of the season but under severe conditions because the virus is still with us and there is a possibility of a resurgence towards the end of November,” he said.

“If that happens we might close it (initiation) in parts of the country. And if it means that it’s going to be in the Eastern Cape, then it means that it’s not going to be possible. But should there not be a resurgence we will then open for those who want to go,” said Bapela.

Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma also wrote to Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane, informing him that cabinet had decided that the provinces and traditional leaders should be responsible for registration and accreditation of all initiation schools.

They should ensure that they comply with health protocols. However in her September 30 letter, she said initiations remained prohibited.

The ECHTL leadership  had hoped to meet Dlamini-Zuma in the OR Tambo district this week, but those plans did not materialise.

''There are pressing issues, including traditional initiation, that we need to discuss with the minister,'' said Mavuso.

He said while the public pressure to open the season was justified, ''we are also not naive to the realities the Covid-19 pandemic poses to the very same families, initiates, circumcision practitioners and traditional leaders who are calling for the season to be opened.''

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