(May 17, 2013) Police have launched investigations into the deaths of 23 boys and young men in botched circumcision rituals in rural South Africa.
The victims, aged between 13 and 21 years, all were taking part in indigenous rituals, Colonel Leonard Hlathi said on Friday. He was unable to comment on whether one practitioner or several were under suspicion.
"We are currently investigating 22 murder cases and one other case is also being reviewed with exceptional circumstances," Hlathi said by telephone from the eastern Mpumalanga province, where the deaths occurred.
"We were informed about this first on May 8, when four initiates were admitted to a hospital and died there. These were not natural deaths but as a result of wounds. The hospital [staff] performed their duty and called us."
The nature and number of the deaths have prompted outrage at the provincial health services.
"We find it irresponsible, preposterous and even immoral that young people's lives are destroyed in the name of tradition," said Nehawu, the main health workers' trade union.