Crackdown on circumcision schools
East London - The Eastern Cape health department has started an operation to rescue circumcision school initiates in the Port St Johns area following the deaths of 11 boys during May and June, spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said on Wednesday.
So far they have rescued 110 initiates and closed 50 initiation schools as the important rite of passage, usually conducted in secluded and remote areas, leads to more injuries and deaths, he said in a statement.
Forty-five boys have also been admitted to hospital for treatment, in spite of the department's ongoing efforts to make the custom safer.
Authorities have found that carelessness, illegal circumcisions, alcohol and drugs and circumcisions carried out by boys younger than 12 are contributing to the crisis.
Health officers would also visit the schools to monitor proceedings and get medical care for initiates where necessary. They planned to destroy illegal initiation schools and discourage the use of alcohol and drugs at the schools.
Health MEC Pumulo Masualle would join these teams on Thursday.
Five initiation surgeons have also been arrested.