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Circumcision toll rising

Cape Town - The death toll in the Eastern Cape's winter circumcision season has risen to 39, the provincial health department said on Monday.

Spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the latest deaths had occurred in the Ntabankulu and Engcobo areas of Transkei and on farms in the Chris Hani district, which includes Queenstown.

National Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka said at the weekend he was considering regulating initiation schools after ongoing reports of youths dying at illegal schools.

His department was also seeking harsh sentencing for those found to be running illegal schools.

The Eastern Cape already has its own circumcision legislation, but prosecutions are sometimes hampered by a lack of co-operation from communities and parents.

Kupelo said on Monday his department was sending an official to Mthatha in a bid to persuade municipal councillors to stop issuing death notices for victims of these illegal schools.

The notices allowed families to obtain death certificates from the department of home affairs, he said.

"These cannot be treated as natural deaths. These are all police cases, and there must be a post-mortem on every one," he said.

"They (the councillors) should rather notify the police if any deaths are reported to them."
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