The death toll in the Eastern Cape's winter circumcision season has risen to 20, the provincial health department said on Monday.
Spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the latest death, on Monday morning, was of a youth attending an illegal initiation school at Old Bunting Village in the Ngqeleni area of Transkei. Six other youngsters from the school had been rushed to Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha with gangrenous penises.
Sixteen boys from an illegal school had been admitted to St Elizabeth's Hospital in Lusikisiki, all in a "very critical" condition. Doctors at that hospital were so concerned at the situation they had suggested to the department that circumcision in the area be put on hold. This was however out of the department's control, Kupelo said.
DoH’s safe circumcision campaign
However the department was seeking to strengthen its safe circumcision campaign, and to ensure greater community involvement. "We would like to reiterate that we need people to get on board and work with the department," he said.
"Those people who are so evil as to disregard the value of life are not somewhere on the moon: they are living amongst the community.
"We do not understand what stops the community from apprehending those people and bringing them to book.
"We cannot continue having our children killed in broad daylight by greedy people."
The province's circumcision law requires that schools, and the traditional surgeons that run them, be registered, and that youths be at least 18 before they undergo the non-anaesthetised operation.
Kupelo said all 20 youths who had died had been attending illegal schools.
Eleven unregistered traditional surgeons and nurses have been arrested this season. – (Sapa, June 2009)
8 die after circumcision: Mpuma