NGUNJANA VILLAGE, SOUTH AFRICA JUNE 20: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Initiates are smeared with white clay on their face and are covered in red and white blankets on June 20, 2014 in Ngunjana Village, South Africa. The winter circumcision season is under way in the Eastern Cape and elsewhere in the country. Traditional surgeons and health authorities are working together as much as possible to limit injuries and deaths. (Photo by Leon Sadiki/City Press/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

A 19-year-old initiate in Willowvale in the Amathole district on Saturday morning is the latest young man to die.

According to provincial cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) spokesperson Mamkeli Ngam, this is the third initiate to die in the Amathole Region.

Ngam said the initiate was lethargic on Friday night and was found dead at around 5am. He added that the exact cause of death was unknown and that a forensic team was investigating.

A 20-year-old initiate in Mcambele in the OR Tambo District died earlier on Saturday morning. While the circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown, pneumonia is suspected to have been the cause of death.

In November, just a few days after launch of the season, two initiates died from dehydration.

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At the time, Ngam told News24 that the Eastern Cape government leadership had decided that there would be severe consequences for any negligence detected at any of the province’s initiation schools this season.

He said these severe consequences would also apply to the parents and communities who should play a role in ensuring that initiates are safe.

“The [Eastern Cape] Customary Male Initiation Practice Act is there and has been explained to everyone. Everybody has the responsibility starting from the parents, families, communities, traditional leaders, ingcibi namakhankatha [traditional doctors and nurses],” Ngam had told News24.

Ngam said that all stakeholders, including the department of health, traditional leaders and police, were committed to ensuring deaths at initiation schools were curbed this season.

-News24