Gauteng initiation schools at risk

A combination of challenges that has lead to deaths and injuries in Gauteng intiation schools will result in a suspension of all operations in the province during 2018.


The aim is not to stop the practice indefinitely, but rather to put it on hold pending investigations.

“We are supporting the susepension on the simple basis of protecting our children. We also want to be able to compel the government to support the initiative,” says Prince Mahlangu, Chairperson of the Gauteng intiation-monitoring task team.

Reports by the Commission for Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Rights (CRL) found that incompetence in performing circumcision rituals had resulted in many penile amputations and deaths.


It has been reported that there is a lack of consent and high rates of violence, abuse and gangsterism at these schools

According to Mahlangu, many of the issues raised are not initiation issues, but criminal ones. As the suspension process begins, it is expected that there will be areas which will still attempt to operate schools, such as Sedibeng and Orange Farm, which is why stern measures are being put in place.

Two of the biggest issues are that some of the people running the schools are young and inexperienced and some schools do not have permits.

It has been reported that there is a lack of consent and high rates of violence, drug abuse and gangsterism at these schools.

There are many initiation and circumcision schools in South Africa, but Gauteng and Eastern Cape have been reported as having the highest number of fatalities due to badly equipped facilities and incompetent teachers.

Gauteng is a focus point because of the criminal element at the schools.

“We cannot do the same at provinces such as the Eastern Cape because it’s just that schools there struggle with the method. These institutions are still initiation schools, not schools of gangsterism,” says Thoko Mkhawanazi-Xaluva, CLR Chairperson.

Mkhawanazi-Xaluva says that the CRL has asked the Department of Health to support research on penile transplants in order to have them readily accessible.