Swazi syndicate cashes in on Aids fears
LUNGA MASUKU, Mbabane | Tuesday
A SWAZILAND crime syndicate allegedly involving government officials is selling HIV negative certificates for R300 in the tiny kingdom’s central region.
Director of medical services in Swaziland Dr John Mbambo said he had asked police to investigate the matter.
“This is defeating our efforts as we try to bring the spread of the virus under control,” he explained.
“We are now faced with criminals who are cashing on people’s desperation.”
He said he had asked programme manager for the Swaziland Aids Programme (Snap) Beatrice Dlamini to investigate allegations that government officials were involved in the scam.
She will then submit her report to the Swazi police for criminal investigation.
Swaziland is one of the few countries in the southern African region that does not have an Aids policy.
“The absence of an Aids policy makes it difficult for us to prosecute people who infect other people knowingly,” Mbambo said.
He said senior authorities in the health ministry were working around the clock to establish a national Aids policy.
He urged couples to go together for HIV tests before having sex, to ensure that one partner did not present a bogus positive certificate.
He said people caught with false certificates should be immediately reported to police.
Some church ministers have made it compulsory for couples to produce HIV negative certificates before getting married, raising concerns that HIV positive couples are being discriminated against.
Swaziland has less than one million people, 34,7% of whom have HIV.
Some 50 000 people have already died of the disease and the number of deaths is expected to increase to 300 000 in 2016.
The pandemic had dropped the average life span in the kingdom to 39, as opposed to 61 in 1991. - African Eye News Service