Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela has warned initiation schools owners not to “abuse the sacred practice of safe circumcision for our people for commercial ends”.
She was speaking last Friday during a meeting with traditional healers from across the province who gathered at Qholaqwe in Qwa Qwa. The gathering was the first of its kind in the Free State.
Ntombela urged traditional leaders and healers to help bring to order greedy practitioners who bring shame to the ancient cultural practice.
“We have lost too many lives and we can no longer afford to go that route again. I want to send a clear message to all those illegal initiation schools that they must not go anywhere near our boys,” she cautioned.
“I would also like to warn some schools in the province not to treat our boys and this sacred culture as their ATM (automated teller machines). Those that have licenses must at all times follow the right, safe and healthy procedures to ensure that our boys return home as healthy men.
“We are going to take tough and drastic measures against offenders as we do not tolerate any more deaths under our watch,” the Premier said.
She also called on the House of Traditional Leaders and the institution of traditional leadership in its entirety to continue playing an important role in shaping the country’s democracy and future.
Since the dawn of democracy, various provincial administrations have worked to ensure better working relations with the institution of traditional leadership., she added.
Government would continue to work with the police to reign in offenders, said Ntombela, further appealing to communities to be cautious when taking their children to circumcision schools.
“We would like to appeal to communities to report schools that kidnap or abduct children to attend their services, because we believe that this culture should be voluntary by parents and children. No one has the right to force children or parents to undergo this tradition.”
Ntombela congratulated some initiation school owners on the way they have provided admirable leadership in the running and management of their institutions.
“Government is happy that you have always been willing to accept advice and partner with us in safeguarding the safety of our children. Over the years, we as the government tried our best to offer support to you as traditional leaders to ensure the dignity of the traditional initiation practice,” she said.