15 December 2004
Commemoration rally for Lorna Mlofana in
On 13 December 2003, Lorna Mlofana from Town 2 Branch was sexually
assaulted and then murdered by a group of young men when they learnt
that she had HIV. On Monday, 13 December 2004 nearly 1000 Khayelitsha
activists came to commemorate comrade Lorna Mlofana and also to say NO
to women and child abuse. The event was co-organised by the TAC and
Medecins sans Frontieres.
"We demand a recognised one-stop rape treatment centre for the
Khayelitsha community offering comprehensive services and access to PEP
for all rape survivors" was the theme of the day. The current rape
crisis centre offers little more than a reception. Every speaker and
the people supported the demand. Khayelitsha needs an acute rape centre
because 40% of reported rape cases in the Western Cape occur in
Khayelitsha. Dr Faried Abdullah (WC HIV/AIDS Director) was among the
attendees for the day, as part of his address to the gathering, he
committed himself to meet the demands by the people of Khayelitsha that
within three months there will be a clear direction on the rape centre.
Thembeka Majali, TAC Western Cape co-ordinator, argued that the 16 Days
of Activism on Gender-based violence was important but not enough. She
called for men to take responsibility for their actions and women to
organise. She said that the death of Lorna Mlofana was not an isolated
incident but indicated more widespread violence against women and
children in South Africa. Fredeline Booysen, TAC Mitchell's Plain
leader, who lives with HIV demanded that AZT and Lamivudine should be
made available at community level for all rape survivors.
Dr Eric Goemare, MSF Head, recalled how Lorna Mlofana acted as a role
model and a treatment literacy co-ordinator in Khayelitsha. He called
on activists to build strong health services, treatment literacy and
adherence support. Zackie Achmat, TAC chairperson, reiterated the
calls to end violence against women and children. A rape centre was
urgent but not enough. He called on TAC Khayelitsha activists to lead a
comprehensive social security campaign including support for a Basic
Income Grant. He said that economic dependence of women on their
partners, husbands and families undermine equality and the economic and
social marginalisation of young men leads to violence against other
young men and women and children. Job creation and social security was
necessary to prevent this. He called on TAC Khayelitsha to lead a joint
campaign with youth in Mitchell's Plain to ensure that a programme of
Youth Community Service was created for young people.
Arthur Jokweni, TAC NEC youth representative, called on all young
people to join the Youth Action for Prevention March to Parliament in
2005. Khayelitsha Police Inspector, Mr Jacobs, committed the SAPS to
full co-operation with the TAC and the community to protect women,
children and the whole community against violence. Mr Pato, Khayelitsha
SANCO Convener for Safety and Security, supported the TAC's call for a
rape centre. Mark Heywood, TAC Treasurer, called on the community of
Khayelitsha to support the struggle of all people for treatment. He
said "The spirit of Lorna Mlofana and the spirit of Khayelitsha must
become the spirit of the country." He saluted the Western Cape
government for its efforts to roll out antiretroviral therapy and
pointed out that there were more people on antiretrovirals in
Khayelitsha alone than in the whole of Limpopo. Mbulelo Mjama from
Positive Men United called on men to become directly involved and
pledged his support to end violence against women. Mama Dalena from
New Women's Movement paid tribute to Lorna and the strong women who
Noncedu Bulana, an HIV positive rape survivor read and handed over the
memorandum to Dr Abdullah. A candlelight prayer in memory of all
survivors of violence and sexual assault and a tribute to Lorna Mlofana
concluded the event.
The event was a success measured by the spirit of comradeship among the
people that were there.
Below is the memorandum handed over to Faried Abdullah:
Memorandum to the Provincial Government of the Western Cape:
The Treatment Action Campaign and the Khayelitsha community commemorate
today the first anniversary of the sexual assault and brutal murder of
our comrade Lorna Mlofana. Lorna was a TAC volunteer, working as a
treatment educator in the HIV/AIDS clinic in Site B. Her case has been
heard in the Khayelitsha High Court in numerous occasions during the
year. Now it has been referred to the High Court in Cape Town. The TAC
has been picketing in the Court at each hearing in Khayelitsha and will
not give up following her case until justice is made.
While we are determined to fight for justice in Lorna's case, we are
also aware that her case is unfortunately not isolated. Many women and
children are continuously being sexually abused in Khayelitsha. We
witness it constantly through our branches, support groups and our
community education work.
According to the South African Police Service, 6530 rape cases were
reported in the Western Cape from April 2002 to March 2003. A large
proportion of them happened in Khayelitsha. More than 60% of the rape
cases seen at Thuthuzela rape survivors centre in Jooste Hospital come
from Khayelitsha. This is a striking proportion considering that
Thuthuzela takes cases from Khayelitsha, Guguletu and Mannenberg, with
Khayelitsha being the most distant. It indicates that Khayelitsha has
the largest rate of sexual abuse in the province.
Up to now the Khayelitsha community had remained largely un-responsive,
overwhelmed with the magnitude of the problem. To promote a community
reaction, the TAC-Khayelitsha undertook, in November, a month of action
against women and children abuse. Numerous activities have taken place
which are culminating today with this act in Lorna's memory. It is
worth highlighting two actions: Nearly 400 people marched in
Khayelitsha on October 30th to condemn a case of rape of a 7 year old
girl in the C section; on November 20th a march of about 500 people
took place to categorically reject the brutal rape and murder of a 4
year old girl. As a result of our mobilisations, more and more cases
are reported to our office showing the eagerness of our community and
the victims to speak out if their cases are heard and adequate response
The TAC has met with different stakeholders to address the issue and
call on their commitment to fight sexual abuse. The SA Police received
a memorandum demanding active engagement in this fight. Some fruitful
discussions have taken place thereafter with them to co-ordinate our
As for health services, the interaction with Simelela clinic - in Site
B – has been less productive. We realize that this is caused by the
limitations that this clinic faces as a follow-up centre. Since
Simelela opened in September 2003, the Provincial Government of the
Western Cape committed to designate it as an acute rape crisis clinic,
which undertakes forensic examination besides follow up care. Today we
commemorate the anniversary of Lorna's sexual assault and murder, and
also the first year delay of Provincial Government to meet that
Simelela could provide a very important service to our community.
However, being only a follow up centre, victims have to be first
referred to Thuthuzela, for forensic examination, and afterwards must
return to Khayelitsha to present a case at the police station. There
are problems of transport to Thuthuzela which makes it very hard for
victims to access that service. Many give up because of the distance.
Appointments for follow up visits in Thuthuzela are hard to attend
because only transport for the initial visit is offered for free.
Others don't go because - being out of the community - Thuthuzela is a
service that they have difficulties to relate to. Even more difficult
is the case of children, since until recently Thuthuzela only assisted
adults. Since Simelela opened, more than half of the victims assisted
are below 14 years of age.
These barriers dramatically limit our effectiveness in developing a
community response to sexual abuse since we can not rely on the health
services available to them.
We are committed to play our part in:
ensuring that the victims receive proper counselling and care;
making certain that the cases are reported to the police and action is
taken against the perpetrators;
ensuring that the community is aware and understands the services that
are available for them,
encouraging victims to speak out and the community to reject sexual
But we also demand that all other stake holders take proper
responsibility. We demand from the Provincial Government of the Western
Cape that Simelela is designated an acute rape crisis centre. Doing so
would streamline facilities for rape survivors in Khayelitsha at their
point of crisis, while improving uptake and co-ordination of services.
Sexual abuse is a problem of enormous magnitude in Khayelitsha.
Fighting it requires of a radical community response, proximity of the
services to the people and adequate co-ordination. This needs Simelela
to become a dedicated comprehensive service for rape for both women and
children. Delays in doing so seriously undermines any chance of
developing a community reaction.
We urge Provincial Government to meet its promise and designate
Simelela as an acute rape crisis centre now.
Khayelitsha District Co-ordinator
Treatment Action Campaign
13 December 2004
[END OF REPORT ON LORNA MLOFANA]
What does the judgment for costs against the
Minister of Health mean?
Unconstitutional conduct of Minister and Department
The Minister of Health’s refusal to give accurate information to the
Treatment Action Campaign was found to be unconstitutional by the
Pretoria High Court.
The judgment means:
- No government body or official may ignore requests for
- No government body or official may misrepresent the status of any
- Every government body or official must promote and maintain a
high standard of professional ethics.
- Every government body or official must be accountable.
- Every government body or official must provide the public with
timely, accessible and accurate information.
- Failure to do this will result in punitive measures from the
Judge Ranchod held that Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang had failed to
uphold her Constitutional duty to maintain and promote “a high standard
of professional ethics”. She also breached the constitutional
obligation that “public administration must be accountable” and that
“transparency must be fostered by providing the public with timely,
accessible and accurate information.”
In addition to the principles of good governance, the Court asserted
that TAC would have succeeded in its access to information application
had the timelines and timeframes for the operational plan existed.
On the facts, the Court found that the information TAC sought was “the
records of a public body” in terms of the Promotion of Access to
Information Act and that “access to this information was not refused on
any grounds whatsoever”. In other words, she just ignored the request.
According to the court TAC “had little choice but to proceed with the
application and this was not unreasonable in the circumstances.”
Justice Ranchod held that:
There is a strong probability that the applicant would
have succeeded in its application but for the fact that the annexures,
as it turned out, were not part of the 0perational Plan. 0nce the
0perational Plan was published, any annexures referred to therein would
have had to be published as well. Not to do so would have meant that
an incomplete document was published. The respondent's department's
conduct was "the fundamental cause of the litigation".
The Court took the unusual step of ordering punitive costs (attorney
client scale) against the Minister of Health. The finding was not only
made in terms of the Constitution but also in terms of the common law
liability for costs. Judge Ranchod cited the then Chief Justice Innes:
"But I should like to say that in my opinion actual
misconduct is not the only ground upon which a court is justified in
varying the general and wholesome rule that a successful party is
entitled to his costs. I think it is the duty of a litigant to avoid
any course which unduly protracts a lawsuit, or unduly increases its
See Scheepers and Nolte v Pate 1909 TS 353 at 356.
This judgment sends a clear signal that no government official may
ignore a request for information or misrepresent the status of
This judgment affirms the right of access to information and the
principles of good governance by imposing heavy penalties on the
Minister of Health. It means that the courts will not tolerate
unethical, unprofessional and undemocratic actions by any organ of
government. This is good law for poor people and the strengthening of
However, the real costs are measured in the loss of lives through
premature and unnecessary deaths.
In South Africa, one of the African countries worst affected by the
epidemic, the Medical Research Council, the Actuarial Society of South
Africa and the Centre for Actuarial Research published their assessment
- More than 500 000 new infections occurred during 2004.
- More than 5 million people were living with HIV/AIDS of whom 4.5
million were in the economically active age group of 15-49 in 2004.
- 245 000 children living with HIV/AIDS in 2004.
- AIDS-related deaths for 2004 numbered more than 300 000 people.
- More than 500 000 people were sick with AIDS in 2004 requiring
- Fewer than 20 000 people had access to anti-retroviral therapy in
the public sector during 2004.
- More than 600 000 children have been orphaned because of HIV/AIDS
TAC is vindicated by the judgment, but it is not enough. We demand that
the government publish clear targets, timeframes and deadlines on
prevention and treatment.
Letter sent by the TAC to Advocate Patricia
15 December 2004
Advocate Patricia Lambert
Ministry of Health
Private Bag X399
Fax: (012) 325-5526
By registered mail, email and fax:
Dear Advocate Lambert
CENSORSHIP ALLEGATIONS ON HIV TOOLKIT
It has come to our attention through media reports (see attached report
Cape Times 15 December 2004) that you instructed by letter
the developers of an HIV toolkit – The Policy Project – to remove all
references to the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Cheryl Carolus,
Patricia De Lille and prominent gay people with HIV/AIDS including
Justice Edwin Cameron, TAC chairperson Zackie Achmat and the late Simon
The toolkit was produced by the Policy Project (funded by USAID) with
the Department of Health after an extensive consultation process. Both
agencies utilise public financial resources. From the reports it
appears that the letter from you was based on an instruction from the
Minister of Health.
We therefore request the following:
Did you indeed write such a letter?
Was the content of this letter based on an instruction from the
Minister of Health?
If you did send such a letter, we request that you send the TAC a copy
If you did send such a letter, we request that you provide reasons for
We also request a copy of all minutes and communications pertaining to
the “Toolkit” with the Policy Project.
Such an action would, unless reasonable explanation is provided, be
considered homophobic, an act of censorship, and, unjustifiable
limitations on the rights to freedom of association, health including
reproductive and sexual health, dignity, access to information and
against the public interest.
We consider the report to be very serious. We urge you to provide a
satisfactory response by close of business 10 January 2005.
TAC EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
ON BEHALF OF THE TAC NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
CC: Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang
[END OF LETTER TO PATRICIA LAMBERT]
Letter to Traditional Healers' Organisation
responding to memorandum handed over to the TAC
Dr D Nhlavana Maseko
Traditional Healers Organisation
National Head Office
PO Box 3722
15 December 2004
Fax: (011) 337 2589
By fax and email
Dear Dr. Maseko
RESPONSE TO THO MEMO TO THE TAC
This letter is a response to your memorandum delivered to our national
and Gauteng offices on 23 November 2004.
The TAC wishes to work with traditional healers and traditional healer
organisations, including the THO, in the interests of promoting public
health in South Africa. In this regard we support the government's
endeavours to ensure that safe and effective traditional medicines are
recognised and that traditional medicines and healers are regulated on
an equal basis to all other health professions in South Africa. This
will benefit and protect both consumers and all ethical traditional
healers. For a detailed explanation of our position, please see the
attached letter sent to the Registrar of Medicines regarding proposed
amendments to regulations of the Medicines and Related Substances
Control Amendment Act of 1997. We are willing to discuss the content of
this letter with traditional healer organisations.
However, we wish to state that we were disturbed by the tone and
contents of your memorandum and pamphlets circulated at the
demonstrations outside the TAC offices on 23 November. We were also
disturbed by the conduct of THO staff members. In particular, Phepsile
Maseko, insulted Prudence Mabele, a registered traditional healer. We
also question the THO's motive for calling for the TAC to be disbanded.
In view of this the TAC believes that for there to be any possibility
of a productive working relationship between our two organisations the
following requests must be met:
The THO must disassociate entirely from Dr. Matthias Rath and Advocate
The THO must publicly state that HIV causes AIDS and that
antiretrovirals are an effective treatment for people with AIDS.
The THO must withdraw its allegation that the TAC is a drug company
The THO must withdraw its allegations that the Medicines Control
Council is a drug company front unless it can provide clear evidence of
If any of these requests cannot be met by the THO, we will conclude
that there is not a basis for collaboration between our two
organisations. Should this be the case, and we hope that it will not
be, a resolution will be tabled at our first NEC meeting of 2005
calling for all relations with the leadership of the THO to be
terminated and endorsing membership status by the THO of the TAC to be
[END OF LETTER TO THO]
Vuyani Jacobs, on behalf of the TAC, lays
complaint with Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa against
Rath Foundation and Treatment Information Group
Yesterday, Vuyani Jacobs, who lives with HIV and represents people with
HIV/AIDS on the South African National AIDS Council, lodged a complaint
with the Advertising Standards Association of South Africa (ASASA) on
behalf of the TAC against the Rath Foundation and the Treatment
Information Group for a grossly misleading advertisement placed on the
back cover of the Mail & Guardian's World AIDS Day supplement. The
advert claimed that multivitamins could reduce the risk of developing
AIDS by 50% and that AZT and nevirapine are toxic.
The TAC has approved this complaint because the South African public is
being flooded with dangerously inaccurate pseudo-scientific
misrepresentations about HIV/AIDS, not only from well-known AIDS
denialists such as Rath and Anthony Brink, but also from the Minister
of Health. The confusion caused by this endangers the lives of people
who have AIDS and desperately need to get counselling, testing and
treatment. It also undermines confidence of people using antiretroviral
treatment and has the potential to affect adherence.
The complaint requests ASASA to stop the advert from being placed again
in media outlets that adhere to ASASA decisions and for a correction to
be printed at the expense of the Rath Foundation and the Treatment
The TAC also welcomes the decision of the Mail & Guardian not to
run the advertisement again.
We hope that this will signal to other advertisers making unproven
claims about the medical benefits of their products, that their
profiteering via the manufacture of misinformation will not be
[ENDS OF STATEMENT ON COMPLAINT TO ASASA]