Pietermaritzburg – Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday paid homage to Aids activists Nkosi Johnson and Gugu Dlamini, describing them as heroes who died for a noble cause.
Nkosi Johnson was born with HIV and died at the age of 12 in 2001. He rose to international prominence in July 2000 when he delivered a self-written speech, televised worldwide, to 10 000 delegates at the 13th International Aids Conference in Durban. At the time of his death he was the longest-surviving child born with HIV in the country. Gugu Dlamini was beaten, stabbed, and stoned to death in December 1998 by a group of men in KwaMashu, Durban, for disclosing her HIV status in public.
“They are South African champions who gave a face to the pandemic, not only in our country but globally as well,” Ramaphosa said at the launch of the National HIV Prevention Campaign for Girls and Young Women in Pietermaritzburg.
“These young people died fighting for access to treatment; they died fighting prejudice against stigma and discrimination. They died for a noble cause.”
With the latest statistics showing that 2000 new infections occurred in South Africa each week, Ramaphosa said government had been forced to take action and this had resulted in the new campaign.
Government was concerned that infection was rife in the 15-24 age group. It had been said that the main reason for this was men targeting younger women for sex, luring them with gifts and money.
Ramaphosa said adult men should have sexual relations with their peers, not younger women.
“Leave our girls alone, leave our young women. If you want love go to your peers; they have more than enough love to give you,” he said.
Friday’s launch was attended by, among others, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, and KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo.