Johannesburg: Thirty-three boys have died
from botched circumcisions conducted in traditional initiation
rites in South Africa, while scores more have ended up in
hospital with mutilated penises, a health official said on Thursday.
The deaths occurred in the Eastern Cape province, one of
the country`s poorest and among the few areas where boys are
still sent into secret schools in the bush for circumcisions
to mark their passage to manhood.
Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo told the Sapa
news agency that the latest death occurred in the village of
Moyeni, where authorities had recently paid a visit in hopes
of treating initiates with infections.
"What is upsetting is that last week, we went there and
the villagers hid these boys away. Now they are calling us
when this boy is dead," he said. "It`s very upsetting and
unnecessary, because we could have saved this boy."
The boy was also allegedly assaulted at the school before
being taken to a neighbour`s home, where he died early
Thursday, Kupelo said.
Scores of other boys were in hospital after circumcisions
gone wrong, with two gangrenous penises amputated in hospital
this week, he added.
The death toll prompted traditional leaders to declare a
moratorium on circumcisions in parts of the Eastern Cape last
Boys die every year from complications from botched
circumcisions by ill-trained traditional surgeons in rural
But they still flock to initiation schools in the bush,
because the faster and less painful medical method in hospital
can result in a lifetime of social rejection.