Sixteen initiates in the Eastern Cape have died and a total of 19 traditional surgeons and nurses have been arrested.
This was announced by cooperative and traditional affairs MEC Fikile Xasa during a media briefing in Mthatha on Thursday on the state of initiation in the province.
Xasa said that of the 16 deaths‚ nine were in the OR Tambo region with six reported in Mthatha.
''A total of 59 cases including murder and attempted murder were opened with police and as a result 19 traditional initiation practitioners have been arrested‚'' said Xasa.
Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders chairman Nkosi Mwelo Nonkonyana said that they would act harshly against traditional leaders who were the cause of the initiates' deaths.