Botched circumcisions kill 40 in South Africa
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Last Updated: Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 17:59
Johannesburg: Botched circumcisions performed during traditional initiation rites in South Africa have killed 40 boys and put more than 100 in hospital this month, a health official said on Wednesday.

The boys, who were taken into the bush and circumcised as part of traditional rites of passage, died from gangrene, dehydration and pneumonia, said Sizwe Kupelo, health department spokesman for Eastern Cape province.

The Eastern Cape is one of South Africa's poorest provinces and among the few areas where boys are still sent into secret schools for circumcision ceremonies to mark their passage to manhood.

Boys die every year from botched circumcisions by ill-trained traditional surgeons in rural areas. Last year in the Eastern Cape, 91 boys died from complications of circumcisions, 55 of them in June, when the winter initiation season is at its height.

Kupelo said practitioners of the rite circumcise up to 50 boys with the same knife without sterilising it in between.

"They use herbs to clean, hence this thing becomes gangrenous and infected," he told AFP.

He said some practitioners also botched circumcisions because of a lack of training.

"In some cases boys were not circumcised but mutilated," he said.

The latest death occurred yesterday in the town of Tsolo, where a 19-year-old initiate died shortly after being admitted to hospital.

Kupelo said the problem is not the tradition itself but the way it was being practised in the eastern region of the province.


First Published: Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 17:59

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