By Dr Tutu Faleni (MPL), DA North West Traditional Affairs and Culture Spokesperson:
The Democratic Alliance in the North West wishes to convey our sincerest condolences to the family of 12 year old Steven Lerumo Gaolathle who was found dead at an initiation school in Rooigrond near Mafikeng.
Lerumo’s body was found with sjambok wounds and burns. The Children’s Act 2005 clearly states that at all times the child’s best interest should be placed first and they should not be subjected to any form of maltreatment and abuse during this process.
The DA condemns any unlawful and abusive treatment of children at initiation schools. These schools should be properly monitored to ensure children are protected at all times.
The DA commends the MEC for Traditional Affairs Ms Tebogo Modise and the Department of Health and the police for swiftly closing down the illegal initiation school and for arresting the two owners of the school.
As initiation season has begun, it is the responsibility of the Department of Traditional Affairs and Culture to ensure that these schools are registered and carry out their functions within the relevant legislative framework.
The DA is concerned that there are no proper mechanisms in place to ensure that illegal initiation schools are reported to by the community.
The Department of Traditional Affairs should establish a toll free number where community members can call to alert authorities if any initiation schools have been opened in their areas.
The DA will write to the MEC for Traditional Affairs asking her to establish a toll free number for community members to report initiation schools in order to prevent injury and loss of life.
The DA believes that is important to preserve our traditional practices but these traditions should be brought in line with the law and Constitution of our country.