Illegal initiation schools have turned the circumcision culture into “something criminal”, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said in The Times newspaper on Monday.
“The mushrooming of initiation schools is seen every single day in (the) Eastern Cape. Hooligans… tsotsis take advantage and prey on this custom.
“It has turned into something criminal and no longer has anything to do with culture. Young lives are being destroyed,” said the minister.
The Eastern Cape health department said at the weekend that 30 initiates had died from circumcision-related injuries and nearly 300 had been hospitalised.
“Some parents are blackmailed into paying for their children’s safety,” said Motsoaledi.
“Because of the belief that children must be left at these initiation schools, parents do not report them missing to the police in fear of going against tradition.”