Commission calls for traditional leaders to account for initiates’ deaths

At least 21 boys have died in the Eastern Cape this season alone.

This file picture taken on 20 November 2008 of young boys from the Xhosa tribe attending a traditional initiation school in Libode in the Eastern Cape province. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The CRL Rights Commission on Thursday called on traditional leaders to account for the deaths of initiates while under their care.

At least 21 boys have died in the Eastern Cape this season alone.

On Thursday, the commission announced the shutdown of initiation schools in that province where young men lost their lives.

The CRL Rights Commission called for role players in the communities to do everything they can to ensure the lives of initiates are protected.

Commission chair Professor David Mosoma said the 21 deaths in the Eastern Cape could have been prevented.

“We appeal and call upon all traditional leaders to address the causes of deaths of initiates in their care at all initiation schools throughout the country,” he said.

Mosoma said operations in the affected schools, which were in four regions, were suspended for a year.

“The deaths of over 20 initiates are clearly a violation of the sanctity of human life.”

The commission said while the practice of initiation schools was highly valued in the country, the deaths in the sector could not be tolerated.