“While as a human rights institution we respect the observance of any culture, we cannot accept and tolerate a culture that leads to the death of children and the youth,” SAHRC spokesman Isaac Mangena said on Wednesday.
“Of all of the guarantees enshrined within our Constitution, the right to life is the most fundamental.”
The SAHRC called on the presidency and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious, and Linguistic Communities (CRL rights commission) to do everything possible to prevent more deaths at circumcision schools.
Mangena said although the CRL rights commission and presidency were addressing the matter, they were concerned following reports on Tuesday that at least 13 initiates had died in the Eastern Cape since the start of the winter initiation season.
“The number is expected to rise as more schools receive initiates with the inland schools in recess,” Mangena said in a statement.
A report compiled by the CRL rights commission stated that 486 people had died due to traditional circumcision processes in the past seven years, said Mangena.
More fatalities were unacceptable.
The SAHRC and the CRL rights commission had held public hearings on initiation schools in 2010 where several recommendations were made on how to make circumcision safer.
Mangena said they now wanted to make more enquiries into the matter.