Media Alert: Western Cape Government Takes Action on Initiation Deaths
29 November 2013
Statement by Head of Department, Mr Brent Walters
Following the death of two initiates at an initiation site in Stellenbosch and the hospitalisation of a further five, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, in consultation with the Department of Health, Stellenbosch Municipality, local elders and the initiation committees responsible for the initiation site is in the process of facilitating the following actions:
- The existing management of the site to be replaced with a new management committee tasked with ensuring that measures are put in place to ensure credible and safe initiation events.
- The initiates remaining at the Stellenbosch initiation site are to be medically screened. Those who are medically fit to be transferred to an alternative initiation site.
- The South African Police Service to be requested to conclude its investigation into this matter as soon as possible.
- Monitoring of activities at all other initiation sites in the Western Cape to immediately be stepped up.
We would like to express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the two initiates who passed away.
The Western Cape has had a proud safety record in respect of initiations over the past few years. Despite all the training and support to make initiations safer over the past few years and in the run-up to the 2013 initiation season, we are now faced with the tragic news of the untimely death of these young men. We will continue to provide medical and logistical support to all the recognised initiation committees in the province and work with cultural communities to ensure the safety of our initiates.
The Western Cape Government calls on those who have been entrusted with this significant rite of passage to ensure that the safety and human dignity of the initiates and their loved ones is protected at all costs.
We want to make it clear that we will, in consultation with representatives of the relevant cultural communities, take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the safety of our initiates.
One death is a death too many.