CAPE TOWN (Xinhua) – A total of 21 boys have died in South Africa as a result of botched circumcision since the summer initiation season began in November, authorities said Monday.
The Eastern Cape province, a hotbed of illegal circumcision, reported 17 deaths, while the North West and the Western Cape provinces reported two deaths, respectively, according to the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, or better known as Contralesa.
An investigation has been launched into the circumstances leading to the fatalities, said Contralesa.
The deaths were reported despite intensified crackdown on illegal initiation schools in a bid to achieve the goal of zero deaths during the initiation season.
Contralesa blamed the government for what it said was “a lack of support and resources in programmes aimed at reducing the number of casualties.”
The situation entailed the need for the government to declare initiation-related deaths “a national disaster,” Contralesa spokesman Olile Ndevu said, criticising the government for failing to direct resources to curbing initiation deaths.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape Province urged families, communities and traditional leaders to work hand-in-hand to ensure the creation of a conducive environment for a successful and safe initiation season.
The government alone could not resolve this issue, noted provincial spokesman Mamkeli Ngam.
Circumcision is viewed as a sacred practice in African cultures, marking a male’s transition from childhood to adulthood.
According to tradition, young males need to be circumcised in what has been described as a passage to manhood.
Every year, dozens of boys die and many more are hospitalised in South Africa as a result of botched circumcision.
In the last 10 years, there have been more than 1,000 penile amputations.