ECape circumcision toll rises

2010-07-12 13:10

The winter circumcision death toll in the Eastern Cape has risen to

41 following the death of yet another would-be initiate, the provincial health

department said today.

The latest victim was a 19-year-old who died on Friday,

spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said.

The victim was part of an initiation school at Nyanisweni Village,

in Bizana, which was set alight early on Saturday morning.

All 11 boys at the school were burnt when their grass hut caught

fire in a suspected arson attack.

“The boys were sent to the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital. One

boy died from 100% burns all over his body,” said Kupelo, adding that another

boy also died from the fire.

“The department have asked the police to investigate the matter

because a person from the village was seen throwing something onto the roof [of

the initiation school], he then laughed and ran off.”

Several of the initiates were seriously injured.

The department’s call for traditional circumcision to be suspended

in the Pondoland area during the winter season had worked with good results as

there was a decrease in deaths, said Kupelo.

“Before this we were losing two to three lives a day to traditional

circumcision,” he said.

“It has been almost two weeks without any deaths except for the

19-year-old which is not necessarily from circumcision, but he did die at an

initiation school.”

Kupelo said the department was continuing to investigate the

situation and a team had been sent to the area to collect information.

“We need to know how many legal and illegal initiation schools

there are,” he said.

However there were some success stories.

Seventy boys had successfully graduated from a village in the

province, said Kupelo.

“There is nothing wrong with the traditional way but we need to

make sure that the health of these boys is not compromised.”

He said 55 000 boys attend initiation schools annually in the


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