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Traditional circumcisions take toll on South African boys


SASouth African experts have urged government to strengthen standardisation of circumcision procedures as the act claimed a total of 24 lives since June.

According to local custom, circumcisions are normally viewed as traditional passage for young boys to enter manhood.

Dr Van Merwe, a Surgeon who had perfumed successful operation on some boys said on Friday that
the government must regulate circumcision practice while preserving the traditions.

The surgeon said it was a big concern that yearly, a number of young boys die of complications from botched circumcisions by untrained traditional personnel.

He added that this was because of limited access to food and water and the boys circumcised often suffer dehydration and even bleed to death.

Merwe said in 2015, there were nine people who had penis transplant operations due to injuries sustained from botched circumcisions.

He noted that more than 21 lost their lives in the Eastern Cape Province, two in Limpopo and one in Mpumalanga.

Sizwe Kupelo, the Eastern Cape Provincial Spokesperson, said some of the traditional surgeons had little or no knowledge of how to cut the boys and lacked knowledge of how to take care of them after the circumcision.

“Statistics from the Human Science Research Council of South Africa shows that the HIV prevalence of the youth aged between 15 to 24 has declined from 10.3 per cent in 2005 to 7.3 per cent in 2012.

“With over 400,000 new HIV infections occurring in 2012.’’

Bheki Monyetsane, a 57-year-old traditional surgeon, said most of his circumcision procedures were successful after having done that for more than two decades.

“All my procedures are perfect no deaths and casualties.

“He will spend at least four weeks in the bushes, waiting for the wound to heal and learning the social responsibilities of being an adult.’’

In an attempt to prevent death and botched circumcision procedures, urologist Shingai Mtambirwa called for strengthened standardisation of the circumcision procedures.

He said the best way to reduce fatalities and reduce pain among the initiates was to standardise the procedures.

Mtambirwa added that traditional circumcision programmes should be carried on by a qualified person, because most of these botched circumcisions are being done by people who never did it before.

“The problem is that some of these surgeons don’t know the anatomy of the person well.”

He blamed casualties on untrained traditional surgeons, seeking to make money from initiates’ families.

Meanwhile, government has vowed to criminalise the running of illegal initiation schools.

Obed Bapela, Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, said government would not tolerate people who are running unauthorised schools or illegal schools.

“Our search is to get the law that can criminalise all illegal schools so that no deaths occur at any illegal schools.

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