Initiation deaths totally unnecessary - Commission

JULY 1, 2015

It was "totally unnecessary" that young men have died as a result of botched circumcisions, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) said on Wednesday.

"The commission... condemns the deaths of young men who died at some of the initiation schools during the last few days," it said in a statement.

"The CRL Rights Commission finds it unacceptable that every time some of the young men who have reached this vital stage in their development end up losing their lives, especially since these deaths could have been avoided."

On Sunday, Eastern Cape health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said a total of six people died last week in connection with the current initiation season.

Five of the deaths took place in the OR Tambo district and one in the Chris Hani district, he said at the time.

On June 17, Kupelo said at least 10 Eastern Cape teenagers had to be hospitalised after botched circumcisions during their initiation rituals.

Proposal to regulate initiations

Commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi Xaluva called for the fast tracking of legislation to effectively regulate initiation schools.

"As a commission we call on the government to fast track the necessary legislation that will effectively regulate all the initiation schools and thereby ensure a close monitoring of those who conduct these initiations," she said.

"We also call upon the police to investigate the circumstances that led to the deaths of these young men and arrest those who are responsible for these unnecessary deaths.

"More importantly we appeal to the law enforcement agencies to ensure a speedy prosecution of those who are alleged to be guilty of these deaths."

The commission commended traditional leaders who worked with police to rescue children found in illegal initiation schools.