Circumcision school age restriction 'justified'

Obed Bapela says a new age restriction on circumcisions is justified by the Children's Act.

Deputy Minister of Traditional Affairs Obed Bapela. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy Traditional Affairs Minister Obed Bapela says a new age restriction placed on male circumcision is justified by the Children's Act and is aimed at preventing children from running off to traditional initiation schools due to peer pressure.

The age restriction is one of several reforms by an inter-ministerial committee, set up to help reduce the number of deaths and make the practice of traditional circumcision safer.

Thirty-one people have died during this year's season alone.

Bapela says the tradition is an important part of many South African cultures and should be protected from being abused by young boys who are not ready to undergo the process.

"Let's use it as a determination of the age of who should be going into initiation because initiation is a passage from boyhood into adulthood. You cannot tell me that a 13-year-old boy is now a man, I think we can really engage on this matter as a society."