South Africa

Gauteng winter initiation season: 138 abductions, two deaths and four arrests

Initiation winter season

The Gauteng province has sent a warning to illegal initiation schools in the province amid the deaths of initiates.

According to Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committee (PICC) spokesperson Kiba Kekana, two initiates died between 2 May and 12 June this year.

One initiate died on 8 June at an illegal school in Ekurhuleni. The second initiate died at a separate illegal school on 10 June in the City of Tshwane.

Both fatalities are under investigation by the South African Police Service (Saps).

ALSO READ: Contralesa warns schools against abducting young boys

The rescued initiates were all taken back to their homes after medical examinations.

This year, the Gauteng PICC approved 145 applications for legal initiation schools during the current winter initiation season.

Of these,134 are for male initiation schools, while 11 are for female initiation schools.

Initiation school abductions

Illegal schools abducted 138 initiates from their communities, resulting in two deaths and four arrests.

One school caregiver was arrested in Garankuwa, while one initiation school principal from Mashimong in Majaneng was arrested.

Another school principal was arrested in Cullinan, while another was arrested in Poortjie.

ALSO READ: Contralesa concerned about floods and freezing temperatures

In line with the Department of Education’s school calendar, the winter initiation season will run until 8 July 2024.

According to the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa), some illegal initiation schools hire people to abduct initiates at a fee.

Contralesa president, Chief Lameck Mokoena, called on traditional leaders to work together to combat abductions.

ALSO READ: All systems go for initiation season

“We have teamed up with law enforcement agencies. If it is discovered that kids have been taken by force, we will act very harshly. Traditional leaders in all our regions and provinces must be ready to work with Contralesa to combat this. We are going to be friends with the courts to ensure that those responsible are punished severely,” Mokoena told the SABC.

Contralesa further shared concerns about the freezing weather conditions across the country.

“The winters are now excruciatingly cold. And the location of the schools should be safe where they will not be hit by the floods,” said general-secretary Zolani Mkiva.

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Mkiva called on initiation schools to ensure there are sufficient blankets and heating.