Limpopo rescues 630 initiates

Riot Hlatshwayo

Polokwane - Altogether 630 initiates, including some as young as eight, have been rescued from bogus initiation schools in Limpopo in the past week and taken to various hospitals.

MEC in the office of Premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi, Catherine Mabuza, accompanied emergency ambulance services and police in armoured vehicles on Tuesday and closed down six more schools in the Waterberg district in the Mokopane area.

"The government transported 300 initiates in ambulances from the schools to local hospitals," said Mabuza's spokesperson Lucky Nchabeleng.

Nine schools were also closed in the Tzaneen and Vhembe area last week for operating without government authorisation and 330 initiates were taken to hospital.

The clampdown on initiation schools follows the death of 19-year-old Mazka Kgatla who bled to death after being circumcised at Mokgolobotho village initiation school near Tzaneen last week.

Nchabeleng has warned that more illegal initiation schools may be closed down this week.

"The clampdown will continue until the government has closed down all illegal schools in the province," he said.

He said that in terms of the initiation schools regulation act, these schools need to be authorised by the government and have to be linked to a nearby hospital or a clinic.

"Health officials inspect the schools and ensure that circumcision is done under hygienic conditions," Nchabeleng said. - African Eye News Service

(File prepared 03 July 2002)