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Punitive laws promote HIV stigma

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The criminalisation of HIV simply promotes stigma and undermines the remarkable global scientific advances and proven public health strategies that could open the path to defeating AIDS by 2030, Justice Edwin Cameron has said. The pioneering judge and activist from South Africa, who went public about his positive HIV status in 1999 was giving a key note address during a four day training for lawyers and media on HIV and TB criminalisation in Johannesburg recently. Justice Cameron began with an overview of how criminal HIV transmission and exposure laws are both HIV specific and those that use existing assault legislation, are “stunningly wide in their application and fearsome in their effects.”

He said there was need to question why criminal law singles out HIV-positive people for prosecution when the same Criminal Code powers are not being used against those who expose people to other potentially deadly conditions.”I feel a sort of intensity about these issues because of the path I have walked. I have been close to death from AIDS. I’ve had my life given back to me. And I’m still the only person holding public office in the whole of Africa who has spoken out about living with HIV.” He argued that laws are misconceived and an ineffective tool for preventing transmission since the majority of transmissions occur during consensual sex when neither partner is aware of their HIV status.

“The biggest fallacy is that criminal law protects those who are HIV negative. But all it does really is to double stigmatise people,” he stated. Being openly gay, Justice Cameron said he has also felt the sense of shame when he was first diagnosed. “You can’t understand HIV stigma until you understand sexual transmission of HIV”. Adding, “It is this shame that explains why we target HIV.” Justice Cameron emphasised on the role of human rights and the need to fight stigma and discrimination as an important element of taming the HIV epidemic.

He also referred to the motion unanimously adopted in November 2015 that was moved by Human Rights lawyer and Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leader Duma Boko and that was seconded by Ahmed Shaik Imam of South Africa during SADC-PF joint session. The motion had called on SADC member states to consider rescinding and reviewing punitive laws specific to the prosecution of HIV transmission, exposure and non-disclosure. It also reiterated the role by parliamentarians to enact laws that support evidence-based HIV prevention and treatment interventions that conform to regional and international human rights frameworks. “We have to go back a few steps and consider how we use power and mechanism of the use of law. It must be based on facts, not on stigma and stereotypes,” Justice Cameron concluded.

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VACANCY: President of the UDC

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Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) President, Advocate Sidney Pilane says Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) does not have a President.

He revealed this week that UDC leader, Advocate Duma Boko was given the leadership of the coalition on a temporary arrangement. Advocate Pilane who was addressing the media this week, following the expulsion of his party from the UDC stated that in the buildup to 2014 general elections it was agreed that Advocate Boko should be presidential candidate for UDC, an arrangement that ended at the time when the UDC lost the 2014 general elections.

“It was decided that Botswana National Front (BNF) should be given the presidency so that Advocate Boko could be our presidential candidate. The late Gomolemo Motswaledi of BMD was to be his running mate. We made this arrangement in preparation to taking over state power.

So, all that has passed, we contested and lost so it is all in the past,” said the BMD leader. He stated that constitutionally, the UDC has no president because the president has to be elected during the UDC elective congress. Advocate Pilane pointed out that UDC according to the Constitution should hold its congress every three (3) years.

He stated that even all the members of UDC National Executive Committee have to be elected at the congress and as it stands, “there is no president or Vice Presidents because they were not voted into those positions.”

Advocate Pilane said instead of building the UDC brand their colleagues at Botswana Congress Party (BCP) and Botswana National Front have resorted to petty issues. He told the media that the leadership of the two parties have taught their members to insult BMD leadership and its members on social media and any other forum.

He had no kind words for the BCP, calling the party a divisive party that thrives on insults and divisive tendencies. He said the BCP leadership had encouraged its foot soldiers to use social media to insult him and members of the BMD.

According to Advocate Pilane, these are some of the things that have made the two parties remain in opposition for far too long without even coming close to toppling the ruling party. He described them as dishonest people who will plunge the country into chaos and that is why Batswana do not want to give them power.

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VIDEO: A Gaborone hotel Prophet caught in the act

Yvonne Mooka

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In a matter that closely resembles that of a South African Cabinet Minister, Melusi Gigaba’s masturbating video clip, a visiting Zimbabwean Prophet, Ronald El Melchizedek of Altar of Grace this week denied that he has been sending nudes to church sisters and demanding same from them.

In fact, the ‘man of God’ has earned himself the name, ‘Botswana’s Omotoso’ by girls that allege he has sexually exploited them. Pastor Timothy Omotoso is a Nigerian clergyman accused of sexually exploiting over 30 young girls from his church in South Africa.

“He is an Omotoso and even though they hide it at his church, some of us have received messages from him asking for our nudes. Actually, he has asked for my nudes several times,” says one church sister.

The Midweek Sun has gotten hold of a 34 seconds video clip of the youthful prophet playing with his manhood. Looking like he is in a hotel room, the man stands fully naked in a muted video that, depicts him speaking and teasing the recipient. In a standing position, he starts off by caressing his manhood, giving it a close up and ends up lying on the bed, facing up.

At least three young women say they received the video from the prophet and that he usually asks for nudes from them. One of them actually says he has been pestering her, demanding to have sex with her. “He likes to send me messages of how horny he is for me. But again, he likes asking for nudes from women.

Even married women at his church have fallen victims of his sexual harassment. I left the church because he disgusted me by doing such things yet calling himself a man of God,” she says.

The woman however says that Melchizedek, a Zimbabwean who holds services at Gaborone Hotel when he is in the country, is a man of accurate prophecies. “He moves mightily in the prophetic but he likes harassing church sisters. It is known in his church. He is married but controlled by the spirit of lust,” she says.

The Prophet responds
Melchidezek told The Midweek Sun that he was aware of the video of him doing the rounds through WhatsApp, but was quick to label the whole thing a scam.“Yes we are aware. Those are scammers from Benin who hacked into my wife’s Facebook account and phone and stole our videos and pictures. So they wanted to blackmail us and we refused, that is why they are doing that.

It is just an effort to harm the work of God but God is in control,” he told The Midweek Sun. He would not be drawn into responding to, or even discussing the allegations levelled against him by church sisters, but instead gave this reporter a mobile number of a person he said was his wife.

The said woman confirmed that the video was posted by scammers. “That was done by scammers. We have reported them to Benin police,” she said. She however would not give the name of the police station nor go into further details.

This incident follows on last week’s revelations reported by this publication, where several girls spoke anonymously about pastors, prophets and ‘men of God’who were using them sexually in church. Many were uncomfortable to reveal their names, forcing this paper to also conceal the identies of the accused churches and pastors involved in the dirty acts in the name of God.

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