14 January 2013

South Africa: HRCMust Investigate Northern Cape Initiation School Horrors

press release

I will today write to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to request an immediate investigation into a series of heinous human rights violations at an initiation school for young women in Hartswater, Northern Cape.

Reports indicate that initiates were tortured and physically assaulted. Initiates were pelted with stones, forced to place burning coals in their mouths and inside their buttocks and were forced to eat sandwiches filled with faeces. Those who refused were reportedly physically assaulted. One individual was tied to a tree and left in the rain. Gabaediwe Motsage (22) died as a result of these atrocities.

Reports suggest that the surviving initiates were unable to eat, speak or walk after they were eventually freed by police.

The HRC must investigate this incident. The police have already launched a criminal investigation into the death of Gabaediwe Motsage, but we need a broader investigation into all the human rights violations at this initiation school. We need to determine who was complicit in torturing these innocent young women.

The police's failure to close down the school earlier also needs to be investigated. Reports indicate that concerned parents had asked the police's assistance to free their children from the initiation school, but that the police failed to take action. The police only acted after Gabaediwe Motsage's death.

Every South African's rights and dignity as a human being must be fiercely guarded at all times. When these horror stories surface we must act decisively to punish those responsible and to treat the root causes. We must defend every cultural institution and every human right equally.

Mmusi Maimane, DA National Spokesperson

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