Some of the initiates at the school, which was being run by a 25-year-old man, appeared to be minors, Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders chairperson Malesela Dikgale said. He was apprehended on Wednesday evening after local leaders and residents raised the alarm about the school in Ramotshenyadi village.

This brought to 16 the number of illegal schools shut down in the province since the beginning of the initiation season. Dikgale said the initiates were all in good health. “We don’t want this kind of a thing in our communities,” he said. One parent said her 12-year-old son went there without her permission. She was worried about him after she heard the principal did not have a permit to operate.

“I heard from others that my 11-year-old son was tricked into going there by people who earned commission each time they took kids there,” said another parent. “If children want to go to these schools, they must do so willingly. I don’t support how my child was forced.” A third parent said: “I am a supporter of culture but, I am not a supporter of death because things like this end up killing kids because the operators are inexperienced.”

A mother of three, Sellinah Mohale, said one of her sons was already there when the other went to join. “I didn’t even have money to bail them out. This is like a blessing to me,” she said.

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