28 dead in circumcision schools
East London - Twenty-eight initiates have died in circumcision schools in the Pondoland area since June 5, the Eastern Cape health department said on Monday.
"We've lost six more boys in eNgcobo, Libode, Qumbu and Tsolo over the weekend," department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo told Sapa.
Two died when their initiation school in eNgcobo caught fire on Friday, while four others died in botched circumcisions.
The department suspended the winter circumcision season following a meeting with chiefs, traditional healers, surgeons and residents in the Pondoland area.
"In other areas initiations have been running smoothly without incidents. The reason for this crisis here is that boys who were circumcised last year are now running these initiation schools."
In the region there were 77 legal initiation schools, but "fly-by-night" ones were responsible for the deaths.
Since the beginning of June, 14 boys have had their genitals mutilated and hundreds were recovering in hospitals.
Hospitals in the area, Kupelo said, were under pressure to deal with the sharp rise in botched circumcisions.