At least 23 teenagers have died as a result of botched circumcision in South Africa since the summer initiation season began, authorities said on Thursday.

All the deaths were reported in Eastern Cape Province, a hotbed of illegal initiation, where most circumcision-related deaths are reported every year, according to the provincial department of health.


This prompted Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to call for action against all those who could have played a role in illegal initiation practice.

Traditional leaders in the Eastern Cape must act to save the lives of initiates, Mkhize said.

“We really have to indicate our disdain because the number of deaths is going to rise,” he said.

The deaths were preventable and unfortunate, said the minister.

Also on Thursday, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities urged, also known as CRL Commission, urged law enforcement agencies to shut down initiation schools where initiates died.

“CRL Rights Commission unequivocally declares a suspension of the initiate schools and practice for a year in all affected regions of the Eastern Cape,” Commission Chair David Mosoma said.

Circumcision is viewed as a sacred practice in African cultures, marking a male’s transition from child to adulthood. According to the tradition, young males have to be circumcised as the passage to manhood.

Every year dozens of boys die and many more are hospitalized in South Africa as a result of botched circumcision.

The government has set up the goal of zero deaths by launching crackdowns on illegal initiation schools every year, but to no avail. Enditem


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