Nemato residents advised on new legislation about ritual circumcision

NEMATO residents gathered at Jauka Hall last week for a seminar which unpacked the Customary Male Initiation Practice Act, to ensure that necessary steps are being followed during the circumcision period.

UNPACKING INITIATION ACT: Nemato residents who will send their boys to the bush for ritual circumcision met at Jauka Hall last week to discuss the regulations to be followed before and during the circumcision period. Leading the discussion are, from left, councillor Mbuleli Njibana, councillor Mkhulisi Raco and Nolonwabo Mani Picture: TK MTIKI

Leading the seminar were Ward 9 councillor Mbuleli Njibana, Ward 6 councillor Mkhulisi Raco and Nolonwabo Mani. Njibana explained that they were conducting seminar under council speaker’s authority.

He remarked on what seemed to be poor attendance. “People did not come as expected but that does not stop us from disseminating information,” he said.

Talking about the Act itself, he said it speaks to the procedures to be followed before and during the circumcision period. It further highlights the consequences of failing to uphold to protocols.

Most importantly, the law further highlights the role of all parties involved, such as parents, the Department of Health and the community at large.

Any boy going to the bush is expected to do a medical check-up as the first step.

“A boy must go to hospital with the parents for a medical examination and if he is in a good condition for circumcision he must then fill the circumcision form which is found in any public hospital,” said Njibana. Parents and a nurse who is distributing the forms are expected to sign the form.

According to Njibana this was to try to minimise the deaths of boys during the initiation period. “Government found out that some of the boys had not been killed by the ritual itself but rather their diseases which they already had before circumcision,” he said.

He said that it had been discovered that some boys conceal their illnesses when they are in the bush. He further highlighted that some of the boys who take medication usually leave it at home when they go to the bush which might be the cause of the high death rate during this ritual.

The law also gives community members autonomy to choose their own preferred elderly men from the community. These men constitute an initiation working committee which then monitors the health conditions of circumcised boys.

“One of the most important things about this act is that it permits Ingcibi (craftsmen) with five years or more experience to perform circumcision,” said Njibana.

The Act also regulates the prices charged by the craftsmen performing the circumcisions.

Njibana said in both Nemato and Bathurst, craftsmen had been charging random prices. To prevent these irregular charges, the law standardises the price to R300 plus one bottle of Commando brandy which can be converted into R120 if the craftsman does not want the brandy.

Raco concluded the seminar by detailing the consequences of failing to comply with the act. He said if a boy was found to have been circumcised without official papers, it might result in a fine of R20 000 to whosoever was found guilty, be it a nurse or Ingcibi.

If a circumcised boy is found to have received forms in an illegal manner, the official responsible could incur a fine of R5 000 and three months imprisonment. He made it clear that this law only applies to traditional circumcision.


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