Traditional surgeons criticise Customary Initiation Bill

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Traditional doctors expressed strong reservations about the Customary Initiation Bill at the first public hearings in Port Elizabeth.

SABC News reports that traditional surgeons raised a number of key issues saying the Bill contains a number of flaws that will undermine their custom and beliefs. They say they were never consulted when the Bill was drafted.

The report says the public hearings are intended to provide a platform for traditional doctors to submit their proposals on the Bill before it gets debated in parliament.

The recently completed winter initiation season claimed 16 lives in the Eastern Cape. The tragedies have again put the spotlight on the custom and the need to have effective legislation around it.

At the hearings the report says traditional practitioners pleaded with the government to equip them with skills and funding for workshops to address initiation deaths.

According to the Bill, the required age for boys to enter initiation school is 18. It also states that traditional doctors should apply at least three months before the season begins.

Chief Velile Mfunda said: “We need seminars there and proper training is needed, every stakeholder needs to be hands on, this must come to an end.”

Traditional doctor Mongezi Hoyi said: “We think these public hearings will assist us. It’s been too long; we have been asking and calling on government to come assist so that we can keep our custom.”

The report says the parliamentary committee refuted claims that traditional doctors were not consulted when the Bill was drafted. Committee chair Richard Mdakane said: “They are making very positive contributions and they criticise us somewhere in terms of the process; that is the reason why we are here, some don’t understand how initiation is practised.”

The report says the committee is on a nationwide road show to create awareness and provide people with an opportunity to make their submissions.

SABC News report

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