Three boys rescued after police arrest two suspects at illegal initiation school

Boys from the Xhosa tribe who have undergone a circumcision ceremony are pictured near the village of Qunu. Picture: Carl de Souza / AFP

The suspects are expected to appear at the Nigel Magistrate’s Court soon.

The case of an 18-year-old boy, who was reported missing by his family on June 13, has prompted the police to lodge an investigation into an illegal initiation school in Duduza, Ekurhuleni, which resulted in three boys being rescued while two suspects were arrested.

According to South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Sergeant Harry Manaka, the police in the area in partnership with the social crime prevention unit, the department of environmental affairs and local traditional initiation chiefs, finally made a breakthrough in the case and executed a search and rescue operation on Wednesday, 8 July.

“The boys were found at makeshift camps in a veld next to Dunnottar and Jameson Park and were taken to a nearby facility for a medical examination and later reunited with the families.”

The suspects were charged with violation of the Disaster Management Act, since government had suspended the winter traditional initiation season due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.

They are expected to appear at the Nigel Magistrate’s Court soon.

Meanwhile, in April the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) announced the suspension of its winter initiation school season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Contralesa president Kgoshi Mathupa Mokoena said the decision was taken after extensive consultation with various communities that practice the custom of rite of passage.

Mokoena said he had personally spoken to most of the kings, princes and senior traditional leaders, including provincial chairpersons of Contralesa and houses of traditional leaders.

The suspension is regarded as “unprecedented”, but according to Contralesa general secretary Zolani Mkiva, it became clear that it would be a “fertile environment” for the virus to spread among the boys in the mountains.

Contralesa warned that bogus initiation schools would not be tolerated.

“We want to emphasise that there will be serious consequences for anyone violating the regulations that speak to the suspension of the winter initiation season,” he said.

This article first appeared on Heidelberg Nigel Heraut and was republished with permission.

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