21 boys undergoing initiation ceremonies confirmed dead in Eastern Cape

Initiates are seen smeared with white clay on their faces, covered in red and white blankets, during a initiation ritual

The Eastern Cape premier’s spokesperson, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, has confirmed 21 boys have died during this season’s initiation ceremonies.

According to EWN, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said most of the boys had died of dehydration.According to the publication, the premier, Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane, had visited initiation schools in the province with a delegation of government officials.

“This is due to the belief that initiates should not get water. So, before and after the ceremony they don’t get water. This leads to mental confusion, an electrolyte imbalance and renal failure,” Mabuyane said.

Mkhize also recommended initiations should be restricted to winter as “no deaths are recorded in the winter months”.

As a result, the government has pledged to donate water to initiation schools in the province and investigate the safety of these schools.