Limpopo has crafted a bill that will see illegal circumcision school operators face a R20 000 fine or a jail term. File photo: Independent Newspapers

Eastern Cape - The high number of deaths at circumcision schools in the Eastern Cape required action, the SA Communist Party in the province said on Wednesday.

“This challenge warrants all people of our province to unite and fight against malpractice of this old custom,” SACP spokesman Siyabonga Mdodi said in a statement.

The SACP called on community forums, traditional leaders, law enforcement agencies and the health department to intervene.

The SACP said at least 20 initiates had died this year alone and scores more had been injured.

“Four had penile amputations and 131 (were) admitted to hospitals.”

The party condemned the torching of two homesteads in the Port St John area, after claims that two women had bewitched two initiates who died after being circumcised.

Mdodi says the problem was not witchcraft but individuals who illegally ran initiation schools for financial gain.

“(There are) those who are now turning our custom into a narrow business for their selfish interests. We cannot allow anyone to commodify our custom and objectify vulnerable young people in the process.”

On Tuesday, traditional affairs MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane called on men in rural communities to also help single women find reliable and legitimate schools for their children.

“This is an important aspect of our life that must not be left to chancers who want to make money out of youngsters.” - Sapa