Botched circumcisions kill 33 in South Africa

Botched circumcisions kill 33 in South Africa 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 week.

Boys die every year from complications from botched circumcisions by ill-trained traditional surgeons in rural areas.

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.