Despite COVID-19 3rd wave, winter initiation ready to start, says EC Cogta Dept

Despite the country being on the brink of a third wave of COVID-19 infections, the department's Mamkeli Ngam said that all protocols were in place and that government would not have allowed for this to proceed if it wasn't safe to do so.

FILE: A Xhosa initiate stands during a traditional initiation process in a rural hut on 11 July 2017 in the Coffee Bay area in Umtata, South Africa. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - The Eastern Cape Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs said that the winter initiation season was ready to start.

The season, which marks the rite of passage for young men, kicks off on Friday, 11 June and concludes at the end of July.

Despite the country being on the brink of a third wave of COVID-19 infections, the department's Mamkeli Ngam said that all protocols were in place and that government would not have allowed for this to proceed if it wasn't safe to do so.

“We’ve put in place risk-adjusted measures mitigate and looked into everything that is risky as far as undergoing the ritual is concerned. So I expected that parents have also a responsibility of doing their own assessment of ensuring that whatever they will be doing, if they take a decision to send their boys to the bush, they must do that within the COVID-19 regulations," he said.

The department said that medical authorities would all be on standby to ensure that processes were in place.

He said that it was safer for government to go ahead otherwise initiations would continue in an illegal manner.

Ngam said that in this manner, the necessary health and safety measures would be adhered to.

"There are health protocols, washing of hands, sanitisation of hands, those are the key issues that were emphasised. That parents must ensure that when they send their boys to the bush, they must be there as well. If they’re
working, for instance, they must take leave and be the encouragement and strength for the boys," Ngam said.

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