Chaos as women barred from participating in Mpumalanga initiation bill hearings

Parliament says the chaos is ‘regrettable’, due to the bill being intended to improve initiation customs.

The Mpumalanga leg of ongoing public hearings into the customary initiation bill came to a halt on Tuesday as men refused women to participate in the process.

Chaos broke at KwaMhlanga in Mpumalanga as some people tried to refuse women from participating in the public hearings, complaining that permission had not been sought from the local chief.

Parliament’s committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs chairperson Richard Mdakane condemned the behaviour of the KwaMhlanga residents, saying their actions were “regrettable as the bill is intended to make customary initiation better.”

“What happened in KwaMhlanga does not contribute to the kind of society and responsible citizenship we want. We condemn it with the contempt it deserves. When people seek to obstruct other people’s right to participate in a parliamentary programme, that is unlawful.

“How this occurred is repressive, disorderly and perpetuates discrimination against women. We accept the tradition is secret and the committee is not taking that away. The Bill is a proposed law and everyone is allowed to have an input,” he said.

Parliament proposed the bill, which aims to regulate initiation schools and other conditions around the initiation process.

This was prompted by escalating deaths of young men who undergo the initiation process every year.

During this year’s winter initiation season, more than 20 young men lost their lives and about 100 were hospitalised.

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