PROSPECTIVE initiates in Limpopo will be subjected to pre-medical screening before admission as part of the government’s attempt to stem the tide of deaths associated with traditional circumcision, the provincial House of Traditional Leaders said.
Chairperson Kgosi Malesela Dikgale said the purpose was to separate healthy from sick initiates, so that possible deaths or complications weren’t unnecessarily attributed to the traditional circumcision practice.
The House of Traditional Leaders, which is located in the Limpopo Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, is responsible for administering initiation schools in the province.
Speaking to the media in Polokwane, Kgosi Dikgale said the screening was part of the government’s drive to ensure that initiates went through their passage to manhood without any casualties.
“We are being innovative, the premedication screening is simply screening so that we check everyone. We don’t want certain deaths to be attributed to the initiation schools. If a doctor detects certain medical conditions, that will help us decide if to whether to initiate or not,” said Kgosi Dikgale.
Insisting that the government would not tolerate illegal schools, Kgosi Dikgale said approved operators had been workshopped and scrutinized by the Limpopo Department of Health to determine if they were healthy enough to run the schools.
He announced that no fewer than 325 traditional circumcision schools would operate across the province this winter, between now and July 18.
Of the 325 schools approved, 118 will take place in Sekhukhune, 89 in Capricorn, 53 in Mopani, 44 in Waterberg and 21 in Vhembe.
At least 376 applications were received.
“All these approved schools will be published and circulated in all tribal offices of our senior traditional leaders in the province,” Kgosi Dikgale added.
He said his committee would establish a register in future to help determine if initiates produced medical certificate before they were admitted to the initiation schools.
Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Western Cape are the main three provinces that practice traditional circumcision in the country.
The practice, considered the passage to manhood by its proponents, has seen scores of young boys losing their lives or their penises amputated in recent years, especially in the Eastern Cape.
The province has a relatively good track record, with two deaths reported last year.
In 2008, it emerged that Klaas Aphane (57) had operated a school at Ga-Molapo, Zebediela, for seven years without a single casualty.
Aphane had credited his close working relationship with authorities, as well as his regular medical check-ups for his impressive track record.
“I make sure I am also healthy to circumcise people. While I primarily use traditional medicines, I occasionally include Western medicines, if needs be, including bandages supplied by the government,” he said.