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The National House of Traditional Leaders is to appoint a four-member task team to get "first-hand information" on ongoing problems with traditional circumcision ceremonies.

The resolution, taken at a meeting of the body in Cape Town on Thursday, follows the deaths of 16 youths and the hospitalising of dozens more in the Eastern Cape over the past few weeks.

Kgoshi Dikgale Solomon, who proposed the motion that led to the decision, said that in his home province, Limpopo, four would-be initiates have died this winter season.


Earlier on Thursday, the Eastern Cape health department announced the death of another would-be initiate, bringing the toll in the province to 16.

Spokesperson Luyanda Majeke said the youth, who had been attending an illegal initiation school at Mooiplaas outside East London, died on Tuesday. A post-mortem has confirmed that he died of septicaemia.

Majeke said department authorities were on their way to Mooiplaas to conduct an "outreach" programme to educate the public about correct circumcision procedures.

He said police intended to arrest the unlicensed traditional surgeon who ran the school.

Seventeen unlicensed surgeons have already been arrested in the province this winter circumcision season. They face a variety of charges, including murder and unlawful circumcision.

Dozens of initiates have been admitted to hospital with circumcision-related complications, including gangrene and malnutrition, or for recircumcision.
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