“The bill is needed to protect but also regulate the customary practice of initiation uniformly across the country.”
Sithole was briefing the legislature’s standing committee on community safety, cultural affairs and sport on the bill which he said he hoped would be passed by the end of the year.
Asked by the ANC’s Mesuli Kama how the bill would to tackle the issue of abductions of young men which are often linked to the initiation schools, Sithole said: “Abduction and kidnapping are offences and the perpetrators would be prosecuted according to the charges laid out in the bill.”
“The department will keep a comprehensive database of schools, develop mechanisms to ensure that they comply with the set standards proposed in the bill,” said Sithole.
On the contentious issue of consent, Sithole said: “There is very little chance that a potential initiate would go to an initiation school unnoticed by the community, giving the example that in the Ndebele community, a boy wears a headband for a considerable length of time before going to an initiation school. By the time he goes there, everyone one in the community would already know, including his guardians.
“We believe that the NCoP (National Council of Provinces) will adopt the bill before the end of this year so that if the pandemic ends and there is a summer initiation season, we will be in a position to apply this bill.”
“If not, we are hoping that at least by next year’s winter season, we will be in a position to apply this bill,” said Sithole.
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