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Traditional Affairs saddened by reports of abuse on initiates

Traditional Affairs spokesperson Mamnkeli Ngam says the deaths are not limited to physical abuse.

FILE: A picture of young boys from the Xhosa tribe attending a traditional initiation school in Libode in the Eastern Cape province. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The Eastern Cape Traditional Affairs Department said it has received reports that some initiates in the province are being physically abused.

The Local Health Department today confirmed 14 boys have died at initiation schools in the Eastern Cape since the beginning of last month.

Traditional Affairs spokesperson Mamnkeli Ngam said the deaths are not limited to physical abuse.

"Some of the deaths are as a result of the issue of physical abuse, some of them died as a result of dehydration. Others died on the way to hospital."

Ngam has encouraged community members to get involved in the wellbeing of initiates.

"We're encouraging parents and families to visit initiation schools 24/7 to ensure that there is no abuse at all."

The department said four initiates have died at initiation schools in the province raising the death toll to 14.

The boys were allegedly among a number of initiates admitted to hospital due to possible botched circumcisions.

Some are believed to be from illegal initiation schools. The cultural practice has been marred by a spate of kidnappings.

On Friday, 22 boys were rescued from an illegal initiation school near Meadowlands in Soweto.

Police said the boys were kidnapped from Orange Farm and taken to a mine dump in the area.

While they have received medical attention the group will be moved to a resource centre to complete the initiation process.

Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa spokesperson Dakhile Ndamase said, "Both parents and children said there is pressure from communities that kids will be a laughing stock as they didn't complete initiation."

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