HARARE — A 34-year-old Zimbabwean woman – who last month was found guilty of deliberately infecting her husband with the HIV virus – is fighting her conviction. Her lawyers have approached the country’s highest court, demanding repeal of the law she was charged under, saying it stigmatizes HIV/AIDS.
HIV-positive Samukelisiwe Mlilo is facing 20 years in jail for infecting her husband with the HIV virus. But she is not yet serving her sentence because of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who is representing her.
In Zimbabwe, it is a crime to deliberately transmit the HIV virus. Lizwe Jamela, a lawyer from the rights group, wants this law struck down because he says it is unclear whether Mlilo or her husband had the virus first.
“It raises a number of constitutional issues,” said Jamela. “So the reason why we had to go to the Supreme Court, there are questions which a magistrate or high court could not answer vis-a-vis the constitution of Zimbabwe, in terms of discrimination and in terms of the law being too broad and too broad to an extent that it violates the freedom of protection by law.”
Jamela said in the case of Mlilo there was no proof that she had infected her husband because her husband may have had the virus first. According to court papers, Mlilo only discovered her HIV positive status when she became pregnant and went for prenatal care. Zimbabwe’s health delivery system encourages all pregnant women to go for HIV testing.
Tinashe Mundawarara is an AIDS activist
Category: Africa News