The Eastern Cape government has until the end of this month to explain the spike in initiation deaths late last year.
This is according to the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission), which also wants a progress report on its recommendation that government immediately shuts down initiation schools in four regions in the Eastern Cape where at least 21 initiates died.
According to its spokesperson Mpiyakhe Mkholo, the commission has written to “relevant stakeholders” in the Eastern Cape giving them a deadline of 31 January to give a report on its recommendations.
“As soon as we receive those reports we will make a pronouncement on what can be done next. For now the issue is not whether they agree or disagree. They need to give us a report into all that has happened and the progress made on our recommendations. If they don’t agree they don’t agree, but for now there is not much we can say until we have received a formal report.”
The province’s Department of Cooporative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) initially responded to the call with concerns that the commission’s recommendations could not be met in such a short space of time.
Cogta MEC Xoli Nqatha said he has since asked the commission for an extension.
“We have received and acknowledged the commission’s request and we have asked to be afforded an opportunity to consult with all relevant stakeholders involved and we have said we can get back to them by the end of February,” said Nqatha.
“Concerns have been raised and we need all stakeholders need to be on board, so now the ball is in my court to ensure that the consultation process is completed. Whether they will grant me that extension I am not yet sure as I have not heard back from them.”
Over the last month at least three initiation school deaths were reported in Gauteng, prompting intensified police action on illegally operating schools.
The commission previously suspended initiation practices in Gauteng for two years in 2017, until May last year. This after it conducted hearings into challenges experienced by initiates and initiation schools in the province.