The two leading organised sections of the working class in the Eastern Cape, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) jointly express their heartfelt condolences to the families of the 20 initiates that have died, and wish the 131 admitted in various hospitals speedy recovery.

NUMSA and NEHAWU are concerned that each and every year, initiates are dying as a result of this old custom practice.

We strongly believe the major cause of death of young initiates is the commodification of this customary practice for narrow and personal accumulation interests.

We are incensed that this custom has been hijacked and is being abused by traditionalist elites in order to escape from the shackles of poverty and economic misery.

We have seen a growing number of people, parading as legitimate or genuine initiation experts, opening up bogus initiation schools in order to make money, thus putting the lives of young initiates at risk, including premature loss of life.

We call on traditional leaders as custodians of this customary practice, the Department of Health (DoH) and the South African Police Services (SAPS) to clamp down on bogus initiation schools.

We further call on the Department of Health to visit all initiation schools around the province with the intention of working closely with the initiation school owners to prevent more lives being lost.

We also call on our communities, particularly parents to identify and report to the Department of Health and the SAPS illegitimate initiation schools.

The failure by our communities to heed this call and cooperate with the relevant authorities will result in more lives being lost.


Phumzile Nodongwe, NUMSA Regional Secretary – 078 802 3140

Xolani Malamlela, NEHAWU Provincial Secretary – 082 455 2745


Numsa Press Release