Stigma kills, says murdered Aids activist’s daughter

2011-06-09 00:00

“MY mum may have been beaten to death because of her HIV status, but there are children out there right now being killed by stigma,” were the emotional words of Mandisa Dlamini, daughter of the late Gugu Dlamini, speaking at the fifth Aids conference, held at Durban’s ICC on Tuesday night.

The stand-out lecture was delivered amid speeches by high-profile HIV activists and dignitaries, including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo.

But it was Dlamini’s story that held the capacity conference captivated from start to finish.

“My mum had me in Edendale Hospital, Pietermaritzburg, and she had to go to Durban for work. She rented a house in Kwamashu and before long was infected. When she brought me to live with her, I didn’t understand anything about the virus, said Dlamini.

She went on to relate how her mother was fearless in her campaign to educate people about the virus.

“Then one night her friend came over and asked her to join her for a party. It was at that party that a group pulled her out the house, beat her to a pulp and threw her off a cliff.

“Her friend came home with a message: ‘They said they are done with the dog, and you must come fetch it’”.

Dlamini stayed in hospital with her mother for three days before she died.

“We often speak of people who are infected, but what about us, the people who are affected?” she asked.

“When my mum was killed, I became what they called a ‘placement’. The department put me in a foster family at the age of 13. I had to work in a tavern where terrible things happened. I was impregnated at 15. I had my baby on a Friday and I was back at school on the Monday,” she said.

Mandisa stressed that she was standing before the crowd for all young women like herself.

She bowed to a lengthy ovation, before Section 27 head Mark Heywood took the podium.

Heywood told the copnference, “Mandisa’s and Nkosi’s [Johnson] stories have shown us the reality of the epidemic and yet, discrimination on every level persists. The body of Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24-year-old lesbian, was found lying in an alley in Kwa-Thema at about 9 am on Sunday April 24, 2011.

“Beaten by members of the community because of her sexual orientation — and that was last month, so what has changed since 1998?,” he asked.

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