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The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has expressed concern at the 13 initiation school fatalities in the Eastern Cape in December.

The committee raised the concerns during an engagement with the Department of Traditional Affairs and the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) on Tuesday.

The committee heard that the fatalities occurred as a result of dehydration and alleged fighting, despite the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) and the NHTL’s undertaking to put safety measures in place.

It also heard that the Eastern Cape Provincial government had a risk-adjusted plan to prevent fatalities.

Committee chairperson, Faith Muthambi, said the committee has requested a comprehensive report regarding the fatalities.

“The report should include, among other things, the number of initiates that were discharged with injuries and support given to the bereaved families. The committee should be provided with a report on consequence management in order to make sure that there is accountability on the matter,” Muthambi said.

Muthambi said the committee is of the view that initiation schools in the Eastern Cape require a serious intervention, and that the Provincial Monitoring Team should come and brief the committee about the December fatalities.

“There also needs to be measures in place to support parents whose children die in the initiation schools. The Department of CoGTA should work with the law enforcement agencies to clamp down on illegal schools.

“Also, the department of CoGTA should make a provision to include implementation plan of the Customary Initiation Bill into its annual performance plan, as soon as the bill is assented into law by the President,” Muthambi said.

The chairperson emphasised that Parliament’s role does not stop with the conclusion of the legislative process, but continues in respect of monitoring and oversight.

“We will therefore be continuously engaging all the relevant stakeholders as to be kept abreast of developments in the implementation of this important statute,” Muthambi said.


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