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Customary Initiation Act Signed

June 8, 2021

The Presidency

President Ramaphosa has signed the Customary Initiation Act.

Parliament passed the Customary Initiation Bill and sent it for assent in March 2021.

The bill was tabled in parliament in April 2018.

In May 2018, the bill was referred to the National House of Traditional Leaders for comments.

The national assembly (NA) passed the bill with amendments and sent it to the national council of provinces (NCOP) for concurrence at the end of 2018.

Amendments included a new definition on medical practitioner; reference to section 12(8) of the Children’s Act on the circumcision of male children under the age of 16 and the prevention, in clause 30, of the use, possession, dealing in, supply and manufacture of any liquor at initiation schools as defined in section 1 of the Liquor Act.

The NCOP revived the bill in October 2019.

The select committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs, water and sanitation and human settlements also introduced amendments to the bill and returned it to the NA for concurrence in December 2020.

Amendments included new definitions on abuse, emergency services and standards for initiation school premises; the provision in clause 2 that any principal, care-giver, traditional surgeon or traditional health practitioner involved in initiation practices or any aspect of such practice must be at least 40 years old and must have also undergone initiation and that every initiate has the right to confidentiality regarding his or her health status.

The portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs adopted the NCOP’s proposed amendments in February 2021.

The act will come into effect on a date still to be determined by the president.