National Assembly passes Customary Initiation Bill

Under the new law, municipalities will be expected to inspect properties used for initiation practices.

Illegal initiation school was destroyed by police during raid to save students from harm. Picture: Louise McAuliffe/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The National Assembly has passed the Customary Initiation Bill, aimed at regulating initiation schools and in so doing, reducing the number of initiate deaths.

Over 400 initiates have died over the last six years.

Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Obed Bapela says it's not government’s intention to interfere in customary practices, but rather to clamp down on illegal and bogus schools that have led to more than 3,600 hospital admissions and 132 amputations since 2012.

Under the new law, municipalities will be expected to inspect properties used for initiation practices.

“South Africa is governed by laws and we cannot allow at lawlessness; therefore, this bill seeks to deal harshly with the hijacking of our culture and commercialisation of our good cultural practice. It is about punishing wrongdoing as criminal elements who abduct underage boys without the knowledge of their families for financial gain and establish illegal schools all over.”

The bill will have to be agreed to by the National Council of Provinces before it can be signed into law.