Covid-19: Health department warning on initiation schools

Eastern Cape will probe issuing of certificates when schools are still closed

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Eleven initiation schools have been closed down and demolished in Buffalo City. Photo: Johnnie Isaac

  • Initiation season has been suspended because of Covid-19.
  • But some Eastern Cape clinics are still issuing documents to parents certifying that their sons are fit for initiation school.
  • The Eastern Cape health department is investigating.
  • Meanwhile, the department has urged parents to abide by the decision to suspend initiation and not to break the law.

The Eastern Cape Department of Health has urged parents not to take their sons to initiation school even if they have been issued certificates authorising initiation by health officials.

Initiation schools are closed because of Covid-19, but some parents whose sons have been found fit for initiation school have been issued certificates to this effect at clinics.

“Initiation season is not yet permitted”, said Eastern Cape Health Department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo. “Those officials who issued those clearance certificates erred and the department will investigate.”

According to the spokesperson for the provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mamnkeli Ngam, 11 illegal initiation schools have been demolished in Buffalo City.

“We have rescued about 20 initiates and arrested four people, two parents and two traditional surgeons,” said Ngam. He said initiation schools remained closed and parents who took their sons to initiation school were breaking the law.

Mdantsane traditional surgeon Andile Siko said the certificates, issued by clinics in East London, were a cause of confusion. He was concerned that parents could be arrested “when they have legal papers that authorise them to take their sons to initiation schools”.

“Health officials should be well informed that the government has not authorised initiation season and as such they can’t grant those certificates until there’s a final order that authorises initiation schools,” he said.

Siko said traditional surgeons and their assistants were not ready for summer initiation season because of the challenges presented by Covid-19.

“Everyone from traditional surgeons to traditional nurses needs training about dealing with Coronavirus in initiation schools. We need training to help us understand Covid-19 symptoms, we need plans in place on what to do when initiates display such symptoms, and how to protect initiates from contracting Covid-19 from traditional nurses.”

“We urge people not to break the law but abide by the government proclamation to put the initiation season on hold,” said Kupelo.

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TOPICS:  Covid-19

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