Death toll rises in Mpumalanga initiation deaths

  • Associated Press
  • May 17, 2013 - 4:51 AM

JOHANNESBURG - South African police say 23 youths have died over a period of nine days at initiation ceremonies that include circumcisions and survival tests.

Spokesman Lt. Col. Leonard Hlathi says police have opened 22 murder cases in the deaths in the northeastern province of Mpumalanga. He says an inquest is being held into the 23rd death of a youth who complained of stomach pains and vomited.

Hlathi said Friday that all the deaths occurred at initiation government-registered sites where medical practitioners usually are present. The government became involved to prevent such unnecessary deaths. Some 30,000 youths signed up for initiation this year.

Spokeswoman Phumla Williams said the government sends condolences to the families.

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