JOHANNESBURG - South African police have rescued 11 teenage boys from forced circumcision, officials said Thursday, after parents reported that the youngsters had been taken away for the traditional but often dangerous ritual.
African teenagers from some ethnic groups often spend time in secluded bush or mountain regions as part of their initiation to manhood, which includes circumcision and lessons in courage and discipline.
Scores of boys and young men have their penises amputated each year after botched circumcisions during the rite-of-passage ceremonies.
"There were 11 boys who were taken for initiation," Mack Mngomezulu, police spokesman in Daveyton east of Johannesburg, told AFP.
"They were taken from the streets and their parents went to open a case for kidnapping. Their ages were between 13 and 16." Police rescued the boys, who had not yet been circumcised, and arrested 3 suspects.
"They were soon found since parents came to police quickly," he said.
The annual ceremonies start around late May, with deaths reported each year due to infection, exhaustion and dehydration.
A government commission found 486 boys died on initiation courses between 2008 and 2014.
One 21-year-old South African man who lost his penis after a botched circumcision received the world's first successful penis transplant in December.
His girlfriend is now pregnant, and his surgeons say they have been inundated with requests from men who had similar amputations.