Statement on Mpumalanga circumcision deaths

19 May 2013

The South African Democratic Teachers` Union (SADTU) has called on government to take action regarding the deaths of 23 male youth who allegedly died as a result of botched circumcisions.

SADTU`s call follows NEHAWU who have gone further to call on government and the MEC for Health in Mpumalanga to account.

We are also shocked by the lack of response and condemnation of this tragic incident from the public and government. The death of young people -  the leaders of tomorrow - need to be treated as a serious matter. The excuse by Health MEC to say that as a woman she could not interfere because of tradition shows gross insensitivity. Her portfolio requires of her to first observe the country`s constitution.

We are aware police have opened cases of murder but we have not heard of arrests. The autumn/winter season has become synonymous with death as South Africa continues to bury dozens of youth who die during this traditional circumcision period. We cannot continue to allow such tragedy to continue as if it is normal.

We respect the culture and tradition and believe these are fundamental to our society. However, we believe we also need to look or combine other methods in order to save the lives of our youth.

SADTU - as part of its HIV and AIDS prevention strategy - in partnership with the Centre for HIV/AIDS Prevention Studies (CHAPS) is conducting Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) campaign targeting learners in schools.

Since April, SADTU has successfully conducted the Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) campaign in the North West and Mpumalanga provinces in May. 230 have undergone MMC in the North West. More than 237 boys have undergone MMC in Mpumalanga and the campaign continues with the aim of reaching 600 boys.

Issued by: SADTU Secretariat


Mugwena Maluleke, General Secretary: 082 783 2968
Nkosana Dolopi, Deputy General Secretary: 082 709 5651
Nomusa Cembi, Media Officer: 082 719 5157