The Coordinator in the National Revised Policy on HIV/AIDS, Joseph Kefas, and other officials last week addressed the House of Chiefs on a number of issues and, among them, the provision of free ARVs to foreign nationals. It was indicated that there currently are 748 foreign inmates in Botswana prisons, resulting to the unit cost of P1 774.50 per adult per year.
The Chiefs noted that in this case they should not forget that no one should be denied the right to health even if still incarcerated.
Among issues that the Chiefs discussed was that condoms in prison should be a choice since not all prisoners want them, noting that some inmates are married and have families out there.
The Chiefs felt that it could be a good idea if the Government had enough capital to increase infrastructure so that every prisoner is locked up in a room alone.
“In this way, it could be easy for them to be visited by their partners privately with the condoms provided without a problem,” they suggested. Almost all of the Chiefs retorted that homosexuality would portray immorality. They stated that it is not accepted by God.
On the issue of access to condoms by prison inmates, Kgosi Kea Batshile Lempadi of Shakawe (Okavango Region) stated that he feels it would be appropriate to give inmates condoms because there has been a case in which pregnancy was reported.
“Why then would we not give them condoms because we would also be protecting them healthwise,” said Lempadi.
Lempadi also shared his views about homosexuals when he opted to differ and said, “Some men may look fully like men yet they have the female sex organ and vice versa, so why not leave them because they are the ones who understanding who or what they are.”
The Chiefs lamented that pre-employment HIV testing for disciplined forces may not cause any problem if people who test positive will be granted work and if the purpose is to give those discovered to be positive the health care they deserve.
“It should not only be a test for HIV but even the rest of other diseases such as Tuberculosis (TB) and cancer,” said Kgosi Lotlamoreng II Montshioa of Barolong.
He warned that if ARVs become free to foreigners they (foreigners) could come into Botswana in large numbers.
The chiefs found the issue of sex workers difficult to combat because of the involved customers who also are believed to encourage the behavior.
“If we allow sex work, many families are going to break up; even culture does not allow it. It may even encourage foreigners to come and practice it here.”