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Last modified: 25 Jun 2018
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Kouga prepares for winter initiation season

14 June 2018

The winter traditional male circumcision season has arrived and parents are once more called upon to play a key role in their children’s rite of passage to manhood.

With the schools closing next week, it is expected that scores of boys across Kouga, especially those from the Xhosa tribe, will take the brave leap from boyhood.

Kouga Speaker Hattingh Bornman, under whose office the Local Initiation Forum falls, said all stakeholders that took part in the custom were once again required to work together in achieving an incident-free season.

“We have already heard disturbing stories from other parts of the province and we must do all in our power to prevent any such occurrences here in our area,” he said.

The ritual – though not so much in Kouga – had been dogged by stories of abuse of initiates and malpractice by unqualified people, resulting in serious injuries and death.

The region recorded a successful summer season this past December, with no fatalities or serious injuries to initiates reported.

During that period, more than 120 boys, from 13 sites across Kouga, went through the manhood rite of passage, known as Ulwaluko.

From these, only two had to be admitted to hospital for complications, but they were released back to initiation school to finish their courses and later returned home without harm.

Bornman attributed that success to the strong effective coordination by the various stakeholders who include the Department of Health, the municipality, traditional surgeons, non-governmental organisations and other government departments.

“The Forum will be on the lookout for opportunists who degrade the custom and end up putting lives of our young men at risk. Parents must remember that it is only them who can give consent and initiates must be 18 years or older,” he said.

The custom is governed by the Eastern Cape Customary Male Initiation Practice Act No 5 of 2016.

Only certified traditional surgeons and traditional nurses may perform circumcision or tend to initiates and parents must sign a consent form after the prospective initiate has undergone medical assessment.

Those who contravene the Act may have hefty fines imposed on them or face imprisonment.