A Provincial Joint Operations Centre (JOC) has been activated to monitor, align resources and co-ordinate efforts of the District and Metro monitoring teams during the summer traditional initiation season.

The JOC is led by the department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in collaboration the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, Department of Health and members of the South African Police Services (SAPS). The JOC is housed at the SAPS Head Quarters in Zwelitsha.

Outlining the work of the JOC Cogta MEC Xolile Nqatha said all District and Metro Initiation Monitoring Forums will be expected to provide weekly daily and weekly reports to the JOC for processing, execution and monitoring.

He also said focus will be on none compliance with the provisions of the Customary Initiation Practice Act of 2005 to mitigate risks that lead to unnecessary deaths and botched circumcision. Issues of none compliance include;

Unlawful circumcision of underage boys
Illegal iingcibi and amakhankatha
None provision of water to abakhwetha
Fraudulent Identification of an underage boy
Abuse and assault
“The none compliance with the provisions of the Act lead to the injuries and deaths of our boy children. We welcome the arrests of two people in Libode for the unlawful circumcision of underage boys. Our efforts will also be co-ordinated through our Safe Initiation Whatts Up Group to activate rapid response,” said MEC Nqatha.

Eastern Cape Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS Lt General Liziwe Ntshinga said they are committed to support the summer season to deal with lawlessness in the practice of the custom. She said the 24 hour SAPS Call Centre is readily available to receive calls from members of the public as well as parents who might be in need of help during the season. The numbers to call for assistance on any traditional initiation related matters are 040-608 7404 or 082 302 7760.

Lt General Ntshinga said they have an Operational Plan in place to guide their support efforts throughout the season. The SAPS Cluster will be aligned to the plan with support from the Initiation Coordinators, she said.

Issued by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. For more information, please contact Mr Mamnkeli Ngam at 071 685 7981 or Makhaya Komisa at 073 509 4516.