Customary Initiation Act encompassing 'provincial peculiarities' gazetted

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The Customary Initiation Act was gazetted on Saturday but is not yet in force, reports Legalbrief. Underpinned by a policy on the customary practice of initiation approved by Cabinet in April 2016 but still not electronically available, the Act provides for the ‘effective regulation’ of customary initiation practices and initiation schools in the context of prevailing ‘provincial peculiarities’.

Once operationalised, the new piece of legislation will prohibit a raft of activities including the use of ‘force and coercion’; the initiation or ‘virginity testing’ of anyone under the age of 16 years; the ‘genital mutilation or circumcision of female children’; and using, possessing, dealing in, supplying or manufacturing liquor and drugs at an initiation school.

Although an entire chapter is dedicated to the necessary oversight and co-ordinating structures, the complex challenges likely to be encountered in implementing what is envisaged become glaringly apparent in a separate chapter on the roles and responsibilities of traditional leaders, initiation school principals, caregivers, parents/guardians, traditional surgeons, medical practitioners and the South African Police Service among others.


Full Legalbrief report (Restricted access)


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