File Photo: Siegfried Modola

Bisho - Six people have died since the start of the initiation season in the Eastern Cape, the provincial health department said on Monday.

Department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said five of the deaths took place in the OR Tambo region, while one boy died in the Chris Hani region over the past week.

He said one boy from Port St Johns had a septic penis and a swollen knee, while a 29-year-old initiate from Qumbu was suspected to have died as a result of defaulting on his chronic medication.

“On the latest deaths, an 18-year-old died on the way to hospital on Friday after circumcision at an illegal school,” said Kupelo.

“The second young man, aged 22, died on Saturday. He attended a registered circumcision school in Tsolo. We await postmortem results to accurately confirm the causes of deaths.”

No arrests have been made.

The initiation season is usually associated with numerous deaths stemming from complications arising from botched circumcisions.

Last year, more that 25 young people died and more than 60 were hospitalised across the Eastern Cape. The department blames greedy traditional surgeons who have hijacked the custom to make a quick buck, putting the youngsters’ lives at risk.

ANA