South Africa launches crackdown on illegal initiation

Cape Town, Feb 23: South African authorities Saturday launched a crackdown on illegal initiation, rescuing over 80 initiates.

In the operation jointly conducted by police and a team of local government officials, an illegal initiation school in the Sannieshof area of North West province was swooped upon, Xinhua reported.

More than 80 initiates were rescued. Many of them, including girls, were suffering from hypothermia and dehydration. Of them 10 were in serious condition, according to a doctor treating the rescued initiates at a hospital in Sannieshof.

During initiation process, many initiates collapsed due to appalling conditions, with no food, water or shelter, a doctor said.

He said the initiates all came in with severe pain, and two had to transfer to the nearby Klerksdorp hospital because of complete amputation of the penis.

Illegal initiation claims many lives in South Africa every year.

About 300 initiates have died in the past five years, while 2,000 of them are suffering serious injuries, according to figures cited by the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

According to local custom, the initiations are normally viewed as a traditional passage for a young boy to enter manhood.

Traditional leaders and local authorities are planning a campaign to ensure the circumcisions could meet stringent health and safety standards.

IANS