Eleven teenagers have died of botched circumcision within two weeks during the winter initiation season in South Africa, authorities said on Saturday.
All the deaths were reported in Eastern Cape Province, a hotbed of circumcision-related deaths, according to the Provincial Department of Traditional Affairs.
The death toll of initiates in a short period “is alarming”, said Fikile Xasa from the department.
Meanwhile, more than 22 boys have been rescued from illegal initiation schools in the province, according to the Community Development Foundation of South Africa (CDFSA), which deals with the safety of initiates.
In a related development, six other initiates died in the province when their initiation school caught fire, the department said.
A funeral was held on Saturday for the six initiates.
Last year, more than 70 boys died at initiation schools and scores of others were hospitalized in the Eastern Cape alone, according to the CDFSA.
In South Africa, circumcision is viewed a sacred practice, marking a male’s transition from child to adulthood.