INDEPENDENT ONLINE (IOL), South Africa, 27 September 2004.

Botched circumcisions 'drain state coffers'

The Eastern Cape government has spent R104-million treating botched traditional circumcisions since 2001, according to provincial health minister Bevan Goqwana.

He released the figure on Monday at a three-day conference on circumcision in East London.

He said it cost R700 a day for an initiate to be treated in hospital, and those injured spend on average 30 days in hospital.

Since the introduction of the province's Traditional Circumcision Act in 2001, a total of 4 932 initiates had been admitted to hospital.

The conference is being attended by traditional leaders from across the Eastern Cape and other provinces, by traditional healers and surgeons, academics, and representatives of local government and the provincial departments of health and traditional affairs.

Goqwana told them that there was a "leadership void" in dealing with the issue of circumcision and initiation in general.

He challenged traditional leaders to take the initiative in seeking "sustainable" solutions to the challenges faced by the custom.

"The conference was called because there are botched circumcisions," one of the organisers, Prince Langa Mavuso, told Sapa earlier. "Traditional leaders decided that we should not keep quiet when people are dying."

Mavuso said women had also been invited to the conference "because they've got a role as far as initiation is concerned."

"The women are the ones who build the initiation lodge with grass, and also they have a role in cooking for the child." - Sapa

(File created 28 September 2004)