Friday, June 12, 2009


Can any of us be surprised that Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world when people are not prepared to discuss the subject properly?

Hot on the heels of Swazi MP Timothy Myeni who called for people who are HIV-positive to be branded on the buttocks to advertise the fact, comes news that one of Swaziland’s prominent HIV AIDS educators was stopped part way into a talk to school children about AIDS because he mentioned sex.

Sanele Mdluli, who writes a widely respected column for the Times Sunday about living with HIV (I have written about him before), was invited by the Good Shepherd High School, Siteki, to talk to pupils.

The school gave him 30 minutes for his talk but he had barely got five minutes into it before the school principal stopped him and had a teacher march him off the school premises.

Mdluli told the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, today (12 June 2009), ‘As the teacher led me out of the school premises, I asked her what the problem was and that was when she told me that I was teaching the pupils sex, something that was unacceptable in a catholic school.’

He said all that he was doing was present an honest, truthful motivational talk to the pupils and therefore felt embarrassed by the principal’s actions.

Sources said pupils were shocked at the principal’s action because they wanted to hear what Mdluli had to say.

Mdluli had previously made similar presentations to other schools in Siteki, including Nazarene, where they never had a problem with his talk.

School principal Susan Matsebula told the Times, ‘In less than five minutes the boy had said a lot of things about sex and we were all taken by surprise hence I felt I should stop him.’

She said as a Catholic institution they were told to teach abstinence and not what Mdluli was telling the pupils.

Meanwhile, Walter Bennett, a favourite ‘rent a quote’ for the Swazi media has supported MP Myeni who called on HIV-positive people to be branded. He said people should not make fun of the MP’s ideas.

I have written about Bennett before and his habit of talking about things he knows nothing about. I am particularly concerned about his racism against Asians.

Bennett has form when it comes to HIV. In 2002, when he was a Swazi senator Bennett said the Swazi Government should stop providing medical support to HIV AIDS patients. He told a rally in Manzini that it was unfair to continue taking care of people with HIV AIDS because others were more deserving.

‘The government is wasting a lot of money, yet these people got this disease out of their evil habits and out of choice,’ he said.

He went on to urge the government to close down places of entertainment. ‘Swaziland can do without these places and this could lower the HIV AIDS prevalence in Swaziland,’ he said.

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