The Press Secretary in the Office of the President, Jeff Ramsay, has denied that some foreign prisoners who are HIV positive and terminally ill have been left to die in Gaborone prisons.
According to Ramsay, the practice for terminally ill prisoners is to be granted a pardon under the Prisons Act so that they could go to their homes and get cared for by their families.
The Legal Secretary of BONELA, Dikeledi Dingake, was recently quoted as saying that they were HIV\AIDS positive and terminally ill prisoners in Gaborone prisons who have been left to die.
She said she had seen seven such prisoners in Gaborone alone and that they did not know what the situation is like in other prisons outside Gaborone.
The Botswana government is reluctant to give foreign prisoners ARVs, saying that it would be expensive to do so.
Other arguments in support of this policy is that ARV treatment is a lifelong thing and that if a foreign prisoner is supplied with ARVs here whilst serving his prison term, it would be like having sentenced him to death as his health condition will deteriorate quickly after being released to a country where ARVs are not available to the public.
This policy, which is seen as being inhuman by most people, was recently supported by the Deputy Minister of Health, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, in parliament when responding to a question from one Member of Parliament on the availability of ARVs to prisoners.
He was quoted as having said they will “rather die than cost us”.
The statement was criticized by many organizations, including BONELA, which said that the statement was inhumane.