THE Eastern Cape traditional affairs department has asked parents not to send their kids for initiation this winter.
This is because cold, wet weather is expected this season and the department fears it could lead to deaths.
In the past 10 years, about 600 initiates have died in the province.
The department’s spokesman, Mamkeli Ngam, said: “We can’t stop the boys from going to traditional circumcision schools.
“It’s the family’s decision but we have issued a warning to advise families to be careful of threatened cold weather.”
Inkolo Kantu Traditional Organisation leader, Thembikhaya Tsolwana (63), was against the warning.
“This month was chosen by our forefathers as the right month to send initiates to the mountains. The cold weather has always been there and it was still identified as the right period. If the government officials don’t know why the initiates die every year they must come to us and we will tell them. The summer season is the most dangerous period for initiates,” he said.
Ingcibi Zukile “Snake” Bangani said: “We will not be stopped by this warning. We will continue with our job as usual.
“These announcements are influenced by Western theories.”
Chairman of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima said: “As the chiefs we respect the warning and we appeal to parents to take full responsibility for their children.
“They must make sure the initiates have warm blankets.
“We cannot say circumcision must stop due to the cold weather.
“But all precautions must be taken before a child is sent to the bush.”