Address by Mr Stanley Ntapane, MP in the Parliamentary Debate: The death of Mpumalanga initiates (29 May 2013)

Mister Speaker, Ministers and Deputy Ministers and Honourable Members,

The UDM expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the 30 initiates who died recently at various initiation schools in Mpumalanga. There are also unconfirmed reports that 6 initiates have died at initiation schools in Limpopo as well and we are saddened by this.

The tragic deaths of these young men could have been avoided had all the relevant stakeholders played their parts.

In particular, traditional leaders, as custodians of our culture, are not doing enough to oversee initiation schools in their areas of jurisdiction, leaving the traditional surgeons and amakhankatha to do figure out what to do as they go along.

This failure of leadership has left Government with no choice but to intervene in an effort to try to bring stability. Many have complained about this intervention from Government, but let us admit that it is the only thing that has brought a semblance of stability in the tradition.

We call on traditional leaders to show leadership on this matter. No culture or tradition can be more important than the lives of our children.

Parents on the other hand often wait for a long time before they report to the authorities that their sons are experiencing problems. In such instances, parents should also be held accountable for any injury or loss of life, even if these occurred in a legal initiation school.

Such a punitive measure would ensure that parents do not willy-nilly shift the blame to the traditional surgeons and amakhankatha when something goes wrong. This important step will lead to early detection of problems and, once remedial action has been taken, help reduce deaths at initiation schools.

Mister Speaker,

In the final analysis, the law must take its course on all those who are responsible for the deaths of young men at initiation schools both in the aforementioned provinces and as well as other provinces.

Thank you.