At least 43 dead so far in initiation schools – Van Rooyen

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

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister paints a bleak picture of the war against initiation deaths, with the Eastern Cape the worst hit.

At least 43 males have died during the summer initiation season, newly appointed Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Des van Rooyen announced on Tuesday.

Speaking during his first media briefing since being appointed on Sunday night, Van Rooyen said the department was extremely concerned about the “mushrooming” of illegal initiation schools in the country.

“Parents and guardians should ensure they send their young men to registered initiation schools and they must ensure these shcools must abide by the rules and regulations of the department,” he said.

The majority of deaths occurred in the Eastern Cape where 30 initiates died, followed by the Free State with six deaths, the Northern Cape with three, the Western Cape with two and Gauteng and the North West province with one death each.

Meanwhile, the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) on Tuesday said it welcomed the commitment by the newly appointed Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) David Van Rooyen to engage with organised labour.

“In his first media briefing the minister has set a high tone for his department in terms of his plans, we however hope that this will not be all talk and will be seeking action to that effect,” said Samwu general secretary Simon Mathe.

“Minister Van Rooyen should as a matter of urgency meet with his predecessor and successor Minister Pravin Gordhan on how the two departments will work together to ensure local government is prioritised in terms of the Division of Revenue Act.

“It can’t be that the country’s 278 municipalities are expected to deliver basic services to over 50 million South Africans on a shoe string budget. We will be urging the minister to demand a sizable increase to local government in the upcoming budget speech,” Mathe said.


On Monday, Samwu had said it noted with concern the appointment of Van Rooyen as the new minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

“As one of the largest stake holders and the largest union in local government our first interest is the sustainability of the country’s municipalities in the interest of service delivery and that of our members.

“We, however, welcome the minister’s appointment with the reservations we have, we further wish him well in his newly found responsibilities with the country’s municipalities.

“We trust that there will be room for engagement between ourselves and the minister on how we can work together to improve service delivery, strengthen municipalities and further better the lives of municipal workers,” said Samwu.

Mathe said Van Rooyen promised to implement the back to basic approach.

“We would like to give the minister our version of back to basics. To us this means doing away with the tendering systems and casualisation of workers in municipalities, it means ensuring that all municipal services are rendered by people who are permanently employed by municipalities,” he said.

“We will therefore be demanding that the minister will ensure that all municipalities stop the use of EPWP [Extended Public Works Programme] for the delivery of services as this exploits workers. We want the minister to ensure that being a municipal worker is fashionable.”

He said they need to engage Van Rooyen on how municipal workers could be remunerated better for the work that they do.

“These are the people who are at the who are at the forefront of service delivery and as such should be remunerated better.

“We need the minister to work with us to ensure that municipalities are financially sound and viable. We are pleased that the minister has further committed to working with municipalities which owe Eskom. Our view is that the minister should not allow National Treasury to withhold funds to municipalities as this will further compound municipalities’ financial woes.”

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