The decision by former ANC Youth League leader Fikile Mbalula to go for traditional circumcision so late in his life has drawn the wrath of Xhosa traditionalists.
The 34-year-old father of one was at the weekend taken to an initiation school in Phillipi, Cape Town. Among the Xhosa the practice is done at 18 years.
And yesterday the initiation school was guarded by SANDF members because of the large number of journalists trying to photograph and interview Mbalula.
Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA president Patekile Holomisa said he was surprised that Mbalula - whose clan name is Jola - was still an inkwenkwe (an uncircumcised boy).
Holomisa said it was disgraceful that a "boy" had been elected into a position of leadership (president of the ANCYL). He even questioned how Mbalula got married while still being a boy.
"In the Xhosa tradition boys are not allowed into positions of leadership. They are not even allowed to sit with men. I am puzzled that he was allowed to get married," he said.
Asked why it took Mbalula this long to go to initiation school, family spokesman Zizi Kodwa said he had wanted to do it in 2004 but could not because of his heavy political schedule.
Tony Yengeni and Mcebisi Skwatsha came to offer Mbalula their support.