At least 26 boys have died since the start of the winter initiation season because of botched circumcisions, the Traditional Affairs department said on Friday.
"The total number of young boys that have lost their lives since the start of the initiation season has risen to 26," said Deputy Traditional Affairs Minister Obed Bapela.
"Twenty-one initiates are from the Eastern Cape, four from Mpumalanga, and one from the Western Cape."
On Thursday, 104 boys were admitted for dehydration, septic circumcision, gangrene, and other related injuries.
Bapela will visit the Eastern Cape next week to assess the areas that have recorded a high number of deaths.
Seven people have been arrested for operating illegal initiation schools in the Eastern Cape. "The government cannot watch as our children are dying in numbers. This must come to an end," Bapela said.
Meanwhile, four people appeared in the Libode Magistrate's Court in the Eastern
Cape this week in connection with illegal circumcisions, the National
Prosecuting Authority said on Friday.
Three male teenagers, aged between 16 and 17, appeared on Thursday on charges of unlawful circumcision after they circumcised another 16-year-old boy in a village near Libode, said NPA Mthatha region spokesperson Luxolo Tyali.
"The young initiate was rescued by the police on Tuesday and is currently in a serious condition at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital at Mthatha."
The boy was cut on Saturday. The three were arrested on Thursday.
After their appearance, they were taken to the Bosasa Place of Safety in Mthatha until their next court appearance on July 10, Tyali said.
On Wednesday, 24-year-old Samkelo Mvubu appeared in the same court on two counts of murder and two counts of contravening the Health Standards Traditional Circumcision Act No 6 of 2001.
Mvubu allegedly circumcised two of the initiates who died on Monday at Luthubeni village near Libode.
"The murder cases emanate from the discovery of the two dead bodies by the police in an illegal circumcision school," Tyali said.
Mvubu was arrested on Tuesday. Both cases were postponed for further investigations.
Mvubu and the three teenagers would be back in court on July 9 and 10 respectively, Tyali said.