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Contralesa plans to curb initiation deaths

Contralesa is committed in working with the Health Department to curb deaths during initiation.

FILE: Teenage boys carrying food to their initiation school in Verena, Mpumalanga. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) says male initiates who are about to undergo circumcision should be taken for medical screening before going to the mountains to avoid health complications.

Contralesa unveiled a plan this week which it believes will eradicate if not minimise the number of deaths at initiation schools.

More than 60 people died during last year's initiation season as a result of botched circumcisions.

Contralesa President Khoshi Thobejane says a partnership with the Health Department is the way to go.

Thobejane has criticised those who are opposed to traditional practices.

"We have to make sure that we finally find the correct way of practicing our culture without harming any individual. Anyone who is dreaming to wish African culture out of Africa, they are better go and look for a better place in Europe or somewhere else."

Meanwhile, several people have been arrested in the Eastern Cape for running illegal initiation schools.

Recently, the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department also set up task team of traditional leaders, sangomas and doctors to monitor initiations and circumcisions across the country.