National 7.12.2016 10:34 am

Summer initiation death toll rises to nine

FILE PICTURE: Initiates.(Photo by Gallo Images / City Press /Leon Sadiki)

FILE PICTURE: Initiates.(Photo by Gallo Images / City Press /Leon Sadiki)

One initiate died last week while eight more died this week.

Nine deaths have already been reported, just three weeks into the summer initiation season.

Chairperson for the national initiation task team, Inkosi Sipho Mahlangu, said nine deaths were recorded in the Eastern Cape.

One initiate died last week and eight this week.

“The exact causes of the deaths are still being investigated,” Mahlangu said.

A decision to not have summer initiation schools operating in Gauteng this year has met with strong resistance by some people.

Mahlangu last week said the main reason why it was agreed there would be no summer initiation schools in Gauteng was due to health reasons.

“In the previous seasons, some initiates bled to death and died as a result of dehydration due to excessive heat.

“We have since met with all key role players in Gauteng and agreed that this year’s initiations be put on hold.

“We were still talking to other provinces with the hope that they will follow suit.”

In the Vaal area, south of Johannesburg, some residents were not happy with the decision to abandon summer initiation schools.

Speaking to The Citizen on Wednesday, one community member, Jabulani Dlomo, said he witnessed a girl’s initiation site being demolished and burnt down by the police on Tuesday.

“The police and some officials also took the initiates and when some of the parents wanted to take their children, they refused and said they were taking them to a safe centre for now.

“Residents decided to embark on protest action, blocking off major roads around the area.”

The Golden Highway, the major road between Evaton and Sebokeng, was barricaded with rocks.

According to Dlamini, protesters were planning to continue with their action.

“At this moment, it does not look like the protest action is going to end any time soon and I anticipate even more violence,” Dlamini said.

“The claims that gang violence emanates from initiation schools is not exactly true because according to our own investigations, many of these gangs are formed in high schools.”

When contacted for comment yesterday, MMC for health in the Emfuleni local municipality, Zaza Raikane, said she was going to meet all relevant stakeholders before she could give a detailed response to the issue.

Gauteng police spokesperson Kay Makhubela confirmed the closing down of one initiation school on Tuesday.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and where we find a school operating, we will close it down,” Makhubela added.

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