Initiation deaths were at the centre of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize’s meeting with Eastern Cape traditional leaders.
Held at the Nqadu Great Place in Willowvale on Thursday, the meeting between the parties discussed ways of curbing further deaths of initiates during the traditional ritual of ulwaluko.
The country has seen a spike in deaths of initiates, particularly in the Eastern Cape.
The Minister met with the National House of Traditional Leaders and the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders on the margins of the Xhosa Carnival celebrations hosted by King Zwelonke Sigcau.
“I got a distinct feeling that all the leaders and amakhosi we met earlier today are very concerned and care deeply about the lives of the initiates and would want to avoid deaths by all costs,” said the Minister.
He said amakhosi are desperate to work with government and medical doctors to curb the deaths which have come to over 400 since 2012.
“There was also general consensus to revive and implement the agreement made between amakhosi and government departments which helped to reduce fatalities in 2015. This is a positive step,” he said.
In this current season there have been 34 reported deaths of initiates with 20 of them coming from the Eastern Cape. Eight initiates died in the Free State, three in North West, two in the Western Cape and one in the Northern Cape.
The Minister is expected to convene a meeting to focus on ensuring zero deaths and mutilation. This meeting is scheduled for the second week of January 2019.