May 2017 2nd Edition

Love our tradition, value our youth

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) has urged parents to become more involved in the initiation process. The department has launched a Zero Deaths campaign, and urges communities to be guided by the theme “We Love Our Tradition, We Value Life of Our Youth”.

Even as communities prepare children for this sacred cultural path, CoGTA has reminded parents that they are responsible for their children’s health. They must not give this responsibility to others.

CoGTA Deputy Minister Obed Bapela has assured parents that the government is working to keep their children safe. Stakeholders will be making random visits to crack down on illegal initiation schools.

“Remember, initiation is a societal issue and all problems emanating from it, are also societal problems,” the Deputy Minister said. “It takes communities to raise responsible young men who can contribute positively to the future of our country.” 

Initiation guidelines for parents

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has released guidelines for parents and guardians as part of its Zero Deaths campaign this initiation season.

  • Make sure that your children are examined by a medical professional before initiation. Young men must go through the pre-initiation medical screening process.
  • Make sure that your children are psychologically ready for initiation.
  • Only use legal, registered initiation schools.
  • Make sure that the traditional surgeons are registered.
  • Initiates must drink water to avoid dehydration.
  • Parents must have medically trained personnel ready for any intervention required.
  • Parents and communities must report illegal or unregistered initiation schools to the authorities.
Initiation fast facts
  • In Xhosa culture, the June full moon heralds the beginning of the New Year, which is also when the initiation season begins.
  • In 2014 the Department of Health budgeted R180 million to support safe circumcisions at initiation schools. Doctors chosen by traditional leaders assisted with pre-circumcision screening, circumcision and after-care.
  • Government policy requires initiates be at least 16 years old, must obtain written permission from a parent or guardian, and must have a medical certificate of good health before attending initiation schools registered with a local chief or municipality.


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