FILE - In this photo taken Saturday, June 30, 2013 A Xhosa boy covered with a blanket and smeared with chalky mud sits in a field as he and others undergo traditional Xhosa male circumcision ceremonies into manhood near the home of former South African president Nelson Mandela in Qunu, South Africa. At least 60 males have died at initiation schools in eastern South Africa since the start of the initiation season in May, health officials confirmed. Thirty of them died in the Eastern Cape in the last six weeks, and 300 others were hospitalized with injuries. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam, File)

Cape Town - More than half a million boys have been admitted to hospital after botched traditional circumcisions since 2008, according to a new report.

Released on Tuesday, the report said dangerous commercialisation of tradition was fuelling the rise of illegal initiation schools in which drug abuse and violence could be rampant.

In the past seven years, about 456 000 initiates were admitted to hospital in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo alone, according to the report from the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities.

Based on community consultations, it also highlighted that at least 419 boys had died in the two provinces in the same period.

According to National House of Traditional Leaders representatives, three deaths were recorded in Mpumalanga and one in the Eastern Cape since the start of the latest initiation seasons there.

As part of updating its original 2006 research on traditional initiation, the commission partnered with the SA Human Rights Commission to conduct public hearings.

During these hearings, parents expressed fears about the prevalence of violence and drug use among illegally operated schools, as well as the exorbitant fees they had to pay.

Health-e News Service

Cape Times