In the north Eastern province of Mpumalanga South Africa, at least 23 people have died from botched initiation circumcision operations. The South African police have opened up 23 murder cases today resulting from this action.
An inquest into the death of a youth who complained of stomach pains and died is due to be held on 24 May. Most deaths occur due to botched circumcisions, loss of blood, and infections. The official cause of death will remain unknown until the results from the post mortems are released.
Part of a cultural ceremony or referred to as a spiritual preparation for the trials of manhood as quoted by the former president Nelson Mandela. An integral part of their culture, a test of bravery, and strength. Differentiating the strong from the weak.
A common practice in South Africa and the initiation led by traditional herbalists, consists of various activities where youths partake in the passage to adulthood. The ceremony takes three weeks to complete and the circumcision is not the only painful activity experienced. With painted red clay faces and dressed with inadequate clothing, the young men drink a herbal mixture of unknown ingredients, and exposed to severe cold winter conditions as part of the survival theory.
Previously the government of South Africa became involved in the cultural procedure to prevent unnecessary deaths. New legislation is presently being drafted to include a safer procedure to follow, and a hint on banning negligent leaders.
It is believed that the Traditional leaders inform the Department of Health before the initiation process begins and that they do not respond until deaths are reported.
No comment yet from the Department of Health is issued regarding the latest incident. Although they now have a firm commitment from the Health Department to have experienced, officials present for the ceremony.
There are wide spread rumors that during these ceremonies the elder more experienced Traditional Leaders showed that the initiates are left in the care of younger inexperienced men and condemn this negligent practice by initiation schools.
The Mpumalanga province in South Africa has recorded the highest deaths from this ritual.
Messages of condolences were sent to all the families from the Government spokesperson Phumla Williams. She also urged the initiation schools to ensure a safe passage to the sacrament to manhood.
Written by Laura Oneale