The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in the Eastern Cape has welcomed the rescue of more than 100 boys from illegal initiation schools in and around Bizana on Monday.
The department's spokesperson, Mamkeli Ngam, said the plans and strategies put in place to curb fatalities at the traditional schools were starting to pay off.
"The rescue of the boys is a step in the right direction because we were able to save lives and ensure that our boys pass through the ritual without any harm or injury," Ngam added.
The rescue was a joint operation between the department and NGO the Ikamva Lesizwe Institute.
Ngam said the ingcibi (traditional surgeon) responsible for the illegal traditional schools was arrested along with his assistants.
He added that the department was concerned that the practice was now being "commercialised".
"We are seeing the mushrooming of these illegal initiation schools, where individuals are inviting people to send their boys at an exorbitant fee. That's why we are saying it's now the commercialisation of the practice which is against tradition," said Ngam.
Eight deaths have been recorded in the province so far.
Ngam said some parents were not helping by sending their children to illegal initiation schools.
"As the government in the province, we have vowed that if we find any illegal initiation school, we will close it down and arrest all the perpetrators," he added.