Initiation deaths in the spotlight

Winter is the time of year many people don’t look forward to – not only is there the constant threat of rolling blackouts a la Eskom, but many people dislike the cold, while many others try and grin and bear it as best they can.

The Department of Health struggles with the season mostly because of the high number of initiation deaths. Winter is the traditional time for the Xhosa ritual, undertaken in many rural parts of the country, but it has been a controversial practice for some time as many boys are killed or maimed in the process, which the government is struggling to control.

There was a particular controversy around initiation last year as an overseas doctor published the grisly results of initiations gone wrong. This year, the SA government has indicated is commitment to stopping the deaths by instituting proper facilities and targeting the issue with funding.

I wrote a piece about the practice for HowzitMSN and NoW! This is a link to the SlideShare version since NoW! has been shut down.


Every year in winter, the media prepares to monitor the rural areas of South Africa, awaiting the grisly reports of initiation deaths.

Read the full piece here.


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