Dr Phophi Ramathuba.
The MEC for Health and Social Development, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, is concerned about the rise of HIV/Aids infections in the Vuwani area.
In an exclusive interview with Limpopo Mirror, she said that it had been noted that many young girls had tested positive when they reported to their local clinics for pregnancy testing.
Ramathuba said the new trend was discovered after the end of the “shutdown” in the area. No schooling took place for more than three months and about 30 schools were torched and damaged when the community was protesting against the decision of being incorporated to the new municipality, now known as LIM 345. During the shutdown, a large number of SANDF members and police officers were deployed in the area to control the situation.
She added that the disturbing trend was discovered when these girls went to clinics when they were going to confirm their unexpected pregnancies. "It was then confirmed that many were pregnant and HIV positive. When the nurses asked them to bring their partners for testing, they then revealed that they were sleeping around with some of the officers who had been deployed in the area,” Ramathuba added.
"Unfortunately, we could not take the matter further as we did not want to disturb these children during their exams as the discovery was made towards the start of the exams. Since they have completed these exams, we are going to arrange for these girls to receive further counselling. During these further consultations, we will advise them on how to live with this disease while controlling it, so that it cannot spread further," said a very worried Ramathuba.
Musanda Vho-Livhuwani Matsila, one of the traditional leaders whose areas were affected by the strikes, expressed shock and disappointment about the news. "It is very shocking that there would be officers who would be sleeping around with our children during these periods. In fact, it comes with embarrassment to hear this, especially when I hear this sad news during the 16 days of activism against violence on women and children in the country.”
He added that not only the officers must be blamed. “As families were displaced during these strikes, there are other men who might have taken advantage of these kids and slept with them. The people who organized these protests should have looked at the social effects on a society like this,” he added
He warned that, in future, the organisers of strikes must take into consideration that their actions could have negative effects “that we will regret forever”.
Date:19 December 2016 - By: Ndivhuwo Musetha