‘Punish dealers harshly’

2020-03-04 06:02

The South African National AIDS Council (Sanac) Civil Society Forum (CSF) has called on the state to impose harsh prison sentences on a syndicate found dealing in antiretroviral (ARV) medication.

This clarion call follows the Free State police’s arrest of a 24-year-old suspect.

According to Brig. Motantsi Makhele, provincial police spokesperson, the Welkom K9 Unit and Thabong Crime Intelligence acted upon information about a person in possession of drugs. He said 1 025 loose ARV tablets were found in the suspect’s bag in Welkom’s central business district on Thursday (27/02).

The culprit is believed to be a student at one of the colleges in Kroonstad. He is expected to appear in the Welkom Magistrate’s Court this week.

This brought the number of syndicates arrested for allegedly dealing in ARV drugs in the Free State to ten. Nine suspects were caught in January in Bloemfontein, Welkom and Ventersburg.

“We call on law enforcement agencies to crack these syndicates and ensure that lives are saved (referring to patients not being able to receive their medication),” said Mmapaseka Steve Letsike, chairperson of the Sanac CSF.

“These criminals and their enablers must rot in jail and never enter the public services.

“South Africa has a high burden of HIV and efforts are being made to ensure that all those who are HIV positive are put on treatment so that we achieve viral load suppression and by extension we achieve epidemic control.”

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