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Johannesburg - Five people have been arrested since the start of the initiation season in the Eastern Cape, police said on Tuesday.

“These arrests are of people that have been detained since May. They were incidents in different parts of the province… it was not a same-day operation,” said Colonel Sibongile Soci.

This came after reports that at least five people were arrested on Monday in connection with the deaths of 30 initiates in the province.

The provincial health department said on Sunday that nearly 300 initiates had been hospitalised.

Departmental spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said that in the most recent case of botched circumcisions during the traditional initiation season, 10 initiates were rescued from a forest in Mbizana.

“The 10 initiates' private parts are rotten. They are badly damaged. Their condition is scary.”

He said the initiates were recovering in hospital.

A total of 293 initiates are currently in hospital in the province recovering from dehydration, gangrene, and septic wounds.

Some have lost their genitals. - Sapa