MMC for health in the Emfuleni local municipality, Zaza Raikane, has warned that those who ignore government’s plea not to open initiation schools in the Vaal this year run the risk of being denied permission to do so in the future.
Raikane told The Citizen on Thursday the decision to suspend this right of passage for young black males was due to media reports suggesting that gangs were formed at initiation schools.
Last year, The Citizen published a story in which a Vaal area police officer said investigations had revealed that gangsterism emanated from illegal initiation schools.
But several community leaders recently denied the claims, saying their own investigations had revealed that gangs were formed in high schools.
Asked about allegations that some people had already started setting up initiation schools from as early as last week, Raikane kept his cards close to his chest.
“Those who have set up the initiation schools did not comply and we are in the process of finding out who those people are,” Raikane said.
“Before the schools can operate, our advisory team – including health officials – must assess them to ensure a safe and healthy environment.
“I still have to meet with all the relevant structures before commenting further on this sensitive issue.”
Earlier this week, national initiation task team chair Inkosi Sipho Mahlangu said this year’s decision to suspend initiation was down to health reasons.
“Our task team met with the Gauteng team,” Mahlangu said.
“We agreed there should be no initiation school operating during this summer because it poses a health risk.
“We recorded several deaths last summer. Some initiates had suffered from dehydration, while others bled to death through their noses.”
He said all nine provinces had been advised against holding initiations this year.
The initiation season in the Vaal area normally begins after pupils have written their year-end exams and runs until early next year.