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Traditional leaders want specialised courts for circumcision deaths

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In 2016, the Customary Male Initiation Practice Act was enacted to reduce initiation deaths, with little effect. Now traditional leaders want the act to be amended so that it can be tougher on those who break the law, writes City Press.

Traditional leaders in the Eastern Cape believe that the introduction of specialised courts could be key to fighting the scourge of initiation deaths in the province, reports City Press. With the summer initiation season expected to launch on Sunday in Queenstown, traditional leaders, the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, the department of health, non-governmental organisations and the community gathered in Mthatha last week to find ways to prevent more boys from dying at initiation schools.

In December last year at least 22 boys died around the province, while 17 died in the recent winter initiation season in June.

Nkosi Mwelo Nonkonyana, chair of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, is quoted in the report as saying it was time the department of justice considered using specialised courts so that those who were arrested for practising illegal initiation could be tried and prosecuted speedily. Xolile Nqatha, cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC in the province, said the issue of specialised courts was one they wanted to consider seriously as government.

“We want cases to be dealt with speedily so that there can be consequences for wrongdoing. Those are the things that we will be considering,” he said. Nqatha said they wanted to implement the same model which was used during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, where there were dedicated special courts.

The report says in December 2016, the Customary Male Initiation Practice Act was enacted into law and many had hoped it would have a positive impact, but little has changed as boys continue to die. Traditional leaders also want some areas of the act to be amended so that it can be tougher on those who break the law.

Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba said the issue of the death of initiates was frustrating the department. Gomba said mandatory medical pre-screening was vital before boys underwent traditional initiation because in the process it could be easily detected if a boy had a pre-existing medical condition.

City Press report

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