Chairperson of the House of Traditional Leaders, Malesela Dikgale has expressed his disappointment after Sipho Malatjie, the owner of an initiation school in the Tzaneen area, was granted R500 bail by the Letsitele Police on Sunday.
Malatjie, 28, was arrested on Saturday after he was found operating the school in Ramotshenaydi village without authorisation from the House of Traditional Leaders which is the regulating body.
In the meantime the death of a 22-year-old initiate was confirmed by Media Liason Officer for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Callies Matlala yesterday (Wednesday). Matlala stated that the incident occurred at the school belonging to Matlala Bakoni Traditional Council in the Waterberg district on Tuesday. The school was operating legally and the cause of death is to be determined.
Dikgale said they were pleased about the arrest of Malatjie but disappointed about the amount of bail set. “He had 158 young boys at his school each of which paid R1 500, which is a lot of money. He stole from the parents of those young boys and that in its own is an offence. We are unhappy because if he is found guilty he will face a sentence of five years imprisonment. We are angry because we are strongly against illegal schools in the province and we are still baffled by a young man like him transgressing the law like that. We made it clear at the beginning of the year that we won’t tolerate any illegal operations but he decided otherwise. We will be monitoring the case closely,” Dikgale said.
Tzaneen Cluster Police Spokesperson, Moatshe Ngoepe said Malatjie will appear in the Tzaneen Magistrate’s Court on 18 August.
Dikgale announced that all 204 legally operated initiation schools are expected to close tomorrow (Friday) and all initiates are to report back to their respective homes on Saturday. “Initially we said the schools will run until 20 July but we realised that the schools will be reopening. We have already sent a memo to all traditional leaders in all districts that Friday is the final day and every initiate must be at his home on Saturday,” Dikgale said.
He described the present koma season as one of the toughest because of the number of the schools approved by the house. “We had 204 schools around the province which was a lot and more difficult to manage compared to last year. We had 140 last year and it was a manageable number. We will be looking to work around that figure next year,” Dikgale concluded.
Three initiates lost their lives in the province since the start of the initiation season. Coghsta MEC Makoma Makhurupetje has sent her condolences to the bereaved family. “As the province we have targeted to have zero deaths this season but unfortunately this was not the case. We are worried that the death toll has exceeded the previous year by two more initiates, but we will continue to engage all the stakeholders with the aim of finding a lasting solution to the problem.”
Story: Herbert Rachuene