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Concern over kraal in suburb

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The visibly big kraal, which was set up about two weeks ago, has been made from branches and is situated on an open clearing

CONCERN: Members of the community raised concerns on social media regarding a kraal that was erected at the corner Dinatla and Kagisho streets in Ipopeng, Kimberley. Picture: Soraya Crowie

MYSTERY surrounds the sudden establishment of a kraal that has been erected on the corner of Dinatla and Kagisho streets in Ipopeng, Kimberley.

Community members took to social media this week, questioning the purpose of the kraal and whether it was an initiation school being set up in the middle of the township.

The visibly big kraal, which was set up about two weeks ago, has been made from branches and is situated on an open clearing.

Many people in the area have been monitoring the activities closely and comments, questions and concerns continue to be posted on various social media platforms.

Among the questions being asked are the legality of a suspected initiation school and the level of sacredness of the procedures.

Community members also expressed concern about their children’s safety, hinting at the possible kidnapping of children in the area to participate in initiation schools.

Many community members were afraid to go too close to the structure out of respect for the African culture and of being accused of trespassing.

The DFA visited the premises earlier this week and was assured by the organisers that the initiation procedures would be held in the veld and that the teachers would be hosted in the kraal.

A man on the premises was reluctant to provide any further details and added that they, as the organisers, did not owe anyone who does not stay in close proximity to the kraal, any explanation.

The man pointed to a few nearby houses, which, he said, he had consulted about the existence of the kraal.

“We engaged with the people who stay close by and they are aware of what is happening. They are not complaining as we are not disruptive or noisy,” the man said in a dismissive tone.

He added that the ward councillor and the relevant department also knew what was going on.

“I don’t know why members of the public even had to call the media to complain as this does not concern them.

“Kidnapping of children during initiation season only happens in Taung,” he stated.

“This is just a place to host the men and it will be here until December,” he added, before getting into his car and driving off.

Some of the neighbours in question refused to speak to the media and said they had no knowledge of the kraal.

Spokesperson for the Sol Plaatje Municipality, Sello Matsie, was surprised about the kraal and could not confirm whether an arrangement had been made with the municipality.

Matsie, however, promised that the municipality would continue to monitor the premises and activities.

“If it is being used for purposes like an initiation school then they should abide by the traditional rules. But we will monitor them as we do not want to be destructive and sound anti-traditional.

“As long as they engage the authorities and follow the correct procedures,” said Matsie.

The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) also distanced itself from the kraal and said they only heard about it on Tuesday.

“We want to know who approved it and who they have been engaging with,” the provincial secretary of Contralesa, Nqaba Shwababa, said.

According to Contralesa, they only know about an initiation school that was launched on Tuesday, during which the children were taken to the veld as per procedure.

“According to the Xhosa and Sotho tradition the initiates have to be kept away from the community until they graduate. A kraal is usually erected at home on a Thursday ahead of the graduation weekend. The kraal stays there until Sunday,” explained Shwababa.

Spokesperson for the Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta), Xhanti Teki said they followed up on concerns raised by the community and confirmed that the kraal will only serve as a holding premises for the Amahlubi Tribe until the initiates returned home.

“It is understandable that concerns were raised as the Kimberley community is not used to this . . . their children are normally sent to rural areas.”