Despite efforts by the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) and the SA Police Service, the death toll of initiates across the country continues to rise.
The spokesperson for Cogta’s deputy minister, Sifiso Ngcobo, confirmed at least 28 initiates had died across the country. Ngcobo said the department was yet to release the final statistics. The Eastern Cape still had the largest number of deaths – 20 – followed by Gauteng, with three, Limpopo and Mpumalanga with two, and the North West with one.
Initiation monitors said dehydration, pneumonia and assault were the leading causes of death. The department warned at the start of the season that anyone implicated in the illegal operation of schools would be charged. Cogta spokesperson Legadima Leso said parents who didn’t check the facility’s operating certificate would be held accountable.
“We urged parents to work hand in hand with us in closing down illegal schools and arresting those in charge,” said Leso. “Some children go to the schools due to peer pressure and without consulting parents.”
Traditional leader in the Eastern Cape Chief Gcobani Tyhali also urged parents to continue playing a role in protecting their children.