The invasion of Philippi East Initiation School undermines the integrity of the cultural practice

Dr Nomafrench Mbombo

Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sports

The illegal invasion of the Philippi East Initiation School, that forced a number of initiates off the land, has undermined the integrity of this important cultural ritual and should be condemned.

The Philippi East Initiation School is a recognized and registered site that has been used for over a decade and a half.

While the Western Cape Government cannot rezone pieces of land for the purpose of initiation, our forums, which have been given effect to by the Western Cape Initiation Framework and Protocol of 2011, allows for the identification of suitable sites that can be used as initiation schools.

This invasion of a long standing site has jeopardized the lives of the young men who were at the site and disrupted this important rite of passage.

Through the important relationship we have with our initiation forums, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport has transferred three of the ten young men who were at the site to another initiation school in Hazeldene. The other seven initiates have completed the ritual and are now safely back in their communities.

We have ensured that the remaining young men are looked after by the same traditional surgeons and caregivers at the school where they have now been transferred. We will continue to monitor their situation to ensure that they are allowed to complete their ritual in the requisite privacy and dignity.

My department will take up this issue with the relevant stakeholders to ensure that an invasion of this kind, where initiation schools are interrupted, does not happen again.

The Western Cape Government remains committed to ensuring that the cultural practice of initiation is respected and that young men are able to celebrate this important milestone in their lives in a healthy, hazard-free and dignified manner.