Traditional initiation.

With initiate deaths rising dramatically only halfway through the summer initiation season, the Eastern Cape government has called on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to intervene.

Twenty-one young men have died while performing the ritual this summer season.

Traditional leaders say they fear more initiates could die before this season is over.

They’re calling on the police and the NPA to arrest and prosecute traditional surgeons who break the law.

So far, 21 young boys have died. Seventeen died in the Eastern Cape, while two in the North West and Western Cape respectively, resulting in some calling for the practice to be scrapped.

But the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa says this is not an option.

Spokesperson Xolile Ndevu explains: “If all of us agree to do away with the traditional initiation, it means there’s nothing left for African people to celebrate or enjoy.”

Government says it’s looking at tightening regulations to stop unnecessary deaths.