Botched circumcisions kill 17 youths in five weeks

Two youths died after botched circumcisions in Limpopo last week.

Two youths died after botched circumcisions in Limpopo last week.

This brings the number of circumcision deaths to at least 17 in four provinces in little more than a month.

At least 12 deaths were reported in the Eastern Cape, three in Limpopo and one each in Gauteng and North West since the winter circumcision season started.

The Limpopo government's head of the provincial task team on initiation, Chief Vusani Netshimbepfe, said one of the youths died at Mapila village in Mokopane near Tzaneen.

Netshimbepfe said another youth died in Mbahe village near Thohoyandou on Thursday.

"The government is sending condolences to the families of the victims of botched circumcisions," he said.

Netshimbepfe said the government had conducted workshops to teach traditional surgeons how to carry out circumcisions.

"All traditional surgeons are trained before they can run initiation schools," he said.

In the Eastern Cape, 12 initiates had died and more than 20 illegal traditional surgeons had been arrested.

Provincial health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said nearly 100 youths had been hospitalised and 350 rescued from "fly-by-night schools" in the province.

"The problem is that these bogus traditional surgeons continue to break the law."

Kupelo said the public and some youths were to blame for some of the incidents.

"For instance, some boys circumcise themselves and some ask anyone who claims to be a traditional surgeon to circumcise them.

"Other under-age boys lied about their ages and told surgeons they were 18.

"Some parents are not co-operating with the department. We appealed to them to alert us of these illegal initiation schools," he said.

"But in some cases they only call us when the situation is critical and doctors cannot do anything to save the lives of the initiates."

Kupelo said some youths had their penises mutilated during botched circumcision.

"The department has allocated R4million, 40 4X4s and deployed 400 officials to monitor the situation," he said.

In Gauteng, a 15-year-old boy died at an initiation school between De Deur and Orange Farm last month.

The boy was one of ten who were illegally circumcised.

A 24-year-old man died from circumcision complications in North West this week. - Sapa