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28 EC boys die during summer initiation

Eastern Cape initiation schools welcomed 41,000 boys over the past two months.

FILE: Teenage boys carrying food to their initiation school in Verena, Mpumalanga. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - At least 28 boys died as a result of injuries sustained during the summer initiation season, the Eastern Cape Health Department said on Wednesday.

Officials say several others are in hospital with injuries from botched circumcisions, assault and dehydration.

Eastern Cape initiation schools welcomed 41,000 boys over the past two months.

The department's Luvuyo Bayeni said, "There were 11 cases reported of assault where the initiates were beaten, tied to trees and other abuses."

Officials last year said they were working with the relevant departments to try and curb a rise in deaths as a result of botched circumcisions.

At least 35 boys died in the Eastern Cape in the winter season, while a further five people lost their lives in Mpumalanga.

Several illegal initiations schools throughout the country were also closed.