The rights of three initiates have been violated in Matatiele in the Eastern Cape, the health department said on Friday.
"The department believes the rights of those boys are being violated," said spokesman Sizwe Kupelo.
Three initiates suffered burn injuries in an incident at an initiation school.
An ambulance was dispatched to the school, but the boys' handlers refused to release them into the care of the paramedics.
"Denying treatment to those boys is effectively putting the boys' lives at risk. The act is barbaric."
Thirty-one initiates have died during the summer circumcision season in the Eastern Cape. –Sapa