sexta-feira, julho 15, 2005
África do sul: polícia abre fogo sobre activistas
13 July 2005, Cape Town
When Mziwethu Faku and Nomphumelo Khweza and other TAC comrades from Queenstown and the Chris Hani District organized their peaceful protest to ensure that people with HIV/AIDS receive antiretroviral treatment at Frontier Hospital and throughout the Eastern Cape, they acted from experience. Their lives had been saved by ARV treatment. They are both active and healthy.
On 12 July 2005, the South African Police Services in Queenstown brutally assaulted and then opened fire on unarmed, peaceful protesters asking for HIV treatment.
Forty people were injured and ten were treated for gunshot wounds. One person, Pumla Xesha had to be admitted to hospital. At least ten of the injured people were people who live openly with HIV/AIDS. The majority of the protesters were women. At no stage was there violence, threat of violence or any form of provocation. No warning to disperse was issued as is required by law. After the assault, as people ran away, the police opened fire with firearms and then used teargas.
The Chris Hani District and the Eastern Cape TAC office had organized the protest after more than six months of negotiations with the provincial and local health authorities on the following issues:
- Access to information on the number of people, tested, counseled and treated was denied by provincial and local authorities along with information on successes and challenges of the treatment programme;
- On 29 December 2004, Mrs N.P. Klaas of the Eastern Cape Health Department sent a circular to all clinics that read: “No new clients should be admitted on ARV's until further notice. Continue sending those that are already on treatment to Frontier Hospital.”
- Frontier Hospital in Queenstown serves a population of 200 000 people with five feeder clinics in the Lukhanji sub-district: Nomzamo, Philani, Ilinge, Sada and Hewu clinics. It is estimated that 2000 people need treatment but fewer than 200 people are on treatment. Fewer than 10 people have been put on treatment this year.
- More people have died waiting for treatment than people on treatment. TAC had received information that at Nomzamo Clinic 52 people are on treatment but that three people have died because of starting too late. Further 51 people living with HIV/AIDS died waiting while on the waiting list for treatment. There are currently 142 people on the waiting list.
- Since April 2005, the TAC District office has tried to negotiate and get access to information and treatment – the local management has referred us to the provincial management.
- No urgency or accountability is shown in dealing with people who are dying.
- For the lack of urgency and accountability the MEC for Health Dr. Bevan Goqwana and the national Health Minister Manto Tshabalala Msimang must take responsibility. This includes responsibility for mismanagement and unnecessary deaths.
We urge the Premier of the Eastern Cape, Ms Nosimo Balindlela to intervene and meet urgently with TAC to ensure that lives are saved through the following:
- Making sure that the implementation of the treatment plan and the roll-out of ARV therapy proceeds with urgency across the province because her MEC for Health has failed the people of the Eastern Cape;
- Human resources for the health care system is prioritized;
- Treatment literacy and community mobilization; and
- The CEO of the Frontier Hospital and the SAPS face justice for invoking violence against peaceful demonstrators including people living with HIV/AIDS.
TAC will mobilize a mass demonstration in Queenstown on 26 July 2005. We ask all civil society organizations and individuals to join us in this protest against unnecessary HIV deaths, for treatment and against police brutality. We will march to enforce our constitutional rights to life, dignity, freedom to demonstrate, equality and access to health care.
We were expressing our anger in a peaceful, dignified and assertive manner. We will continue to use peaceful mass mobilization but we urge the government to act with speed and compassion.
The TAC NEC salutes our Queenstown and Eastern Cape comrades. We say to our leaders in the Eastern Cape: we are proud of your work – mobilize to ensure at least 200 000 by 2006 and that ultimately everyone who needs treatment gets it.