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40 initiates killed in the Eastern Cape so far this season

Provincial health spokesperson Luvuyo Bayeni said dehydration played a role in some of the deaths.

Illegal initiation school was destroyed by police during raid to save students from harm. Picture: Louise McAuliffe/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Forty initiates have died in the Eastern Cape during the summer initiation season. Provincial officials say many have already completed their rites of passage in time to spend Christmas with their families.

The rest are expected to return home next week.

The Eastern Cape department of Traditional Affairs' Mamnkeli Ngam said, "Forty young lives have been lost and we regret the deaths over this season because we've done everything in our power to ensure that there was such situation."

Earlier this month, provincial health spokesperson Luvuyo Bayeni said dehydration played a role in some of the deaths.

He said many of the initiates have not been given sufficient drinking water.

Bayeni said the department has intervened and is focusing on areas which have experienced hot weather condition.

"Especially looking at Chris Hani District, which is our priority and leading area, we have since tried to increase the number of monitoring teams that we have so that there is more water provision."