File photo taken in July 2016 shows Zulu youths in South Africa who have undergone the initiation ritual. (Xinhua)
CAPE TOWN, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- At least 23 people have died from botched circumcision during the summer initiation season in South Africa, authorities said Wednesday.
The deaths occurred despite the "Zero Deaths" campaign launched by the government, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs said in its latest update on initiation deaths during the summer initiation season.
"Despite government's interventions, these tragic incidents seem to persist," department spokesperson Legadima Leso said.
Most of the deaths were reported in bogus initiation schools, according to Leso.
He said government-dispatched teams will continue to monitor the situation across the country throughout the current initiation season.
"We are urging communities, especially parents, care givers or legal guardians to play their part and support our zero deaths approach during this initiation season - enough is enough," said Leso.
The message should be clear that those who use the important cultural practice of South Africa to enrich themselves have no place in the communities, Leso said.
"Let us all alert the authorities about bogus initiation schools and those that abduct our children, thus disgracing this important part of our tradition," he added.
Circumcision is viewed a sacred practice in African cultures, marking a male's transition from child to adulthood. According to the tradition, young males have to be circumcised as the passage to manhood.
In winter and summer initiation seasons of 2015, approximately 101 initiates lost their lives, most in the Eastern Cape, and in the last 10 years there has been an estimated 1,000 penile amputations.