About six youngsters have been reported dead at the initiation schools taking place in the Eastern Cape.
The death of the youngsters aged between 16 and 20 reportedly occurred at both illegal and legal schools according to the provincial department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta).
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“Police are still following up and investigating the cases. However, in the Buffalo City metro, one ingcibi [traditional surgeon] has been arrested for illegal circumcision after parents reported the matter to the local police station. Three other traditional surgeons are still at large,” the department said on Wednesday.
Though the exact cause of the death of the youngsters were not yet available, the department of provincial department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs said monitoring teams visited more than 5,000 youngsters in both legal and illegal schools in the province to observe the school.
“The teams observed various concerning challenges such as illegal circumcision, dehydration, infections such as septicaemia and boys circumcising themselves,” the department said.
“The department sends its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and their relatives for the loss of their loved ones.
“Cogta and the House of Traditional Leaders call on parents and communities, once again, to remain vigilant during this period by visiting the initiation schools to guard against drug abuse, assault and ill-treatment of initiates.”
“In the same vein, parents should also use the services of registered schools and traditional surgeons to promote legal schools and ensure the safety of the initiates.”
The initiation season is usually associated with numerous deaths stemming from complications arising from botched circumcisions and other health related issues.
Last year, news media reported more that 25 young people dead and more than 60 were hospitalized across the Eastern Cape. The department blamed the death rise on greedy traditional surgeons who have hijacked the custom to make a quick buck, putting the youngsters’ lives at risk.