Eleven teenagers have died of botched circumcision within two weeks during the winter initiation season in South Africa, authorities said on Saturday.
According to Provincial Department of Traditional Affairs, all the deaths are in Eastern Cape Province, a hotbed of circumcision-related deaths.
“The death toll of initiates in a short period is alarming,’’ Fikile Xasa from the department said.
He added that the deaths occurred in spite of “Zero Deaths” campaign launched by the government.
Government-dispatched teams were currently monitoring the situation across the country, according to Community Development Foundation of South Africa (CDFSA), which deals with the safety of initiates.
It, however, said over 22 boys were rescued from illegal initiation schools in the province.
The department stated that six other initiates died in the province when their initiation school caught fire, noting that their funeral was held on Saturday.
Circumcision is viewed a sacred practice in African cultures, marking a male’s transition from child to adulthood.
In South Africa, young males must traditionally be circumcised as passage to manhood.
According to the CDFSA, over 70 boys died at initiation schools in 2016 and scores of others were hospitalised in the Eastern Cape alone.