n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Challenges facing the initiation schools : the case of Nelson Mandela Metropole in the Eastern Cape

Volume 20, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The traditional rites of passage within the Xhosa culture is currently under siege. This paper seeks to explore some of the problems related to the old practice of initiation in which criminal activities seem to have taken the centre stage. This old practice did not experience serious problems in the past, but it is currently under attack mainly due to the fact that many families have lost their loved ones. The media has also over the years portrayed the practice in a negative light, while some members of the community are also criticising the practice of initiation. Various case studies will be discussed with a view to reflecting on some of the causes of the problems. The perspectives of various stakeholders, ranging from medical practitioners (both traditional and western) to members of the community at large, will be reflected. Solutions for the major problem will be suggested in this paper, with a final conclusion being drawn thereafter. Data for this research paper was gathered by means of personal interviews. Valuable information was also gathered from a series of workshops which were organised in 1998, and which were attended by surgeons, guardians, traditional leaders, parents, town councillors, medical practitioners (both western and traditional. In a slide-show presentation during one of these workshops the seriousness of the matter was emphasised. On-site visits to initiation schools situated next to the Uitenhage free-way in the Port Elizabeth area provided some useful information. Additional information was gathered from newspapers and articles in journals.

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