HIV injector gets 5 years

Riot Hlatshwayo

The Mpumalanga nurse who injected her four-year-old stepson with HIV-contaminated blood was yesterday sentenced to five years in prison.

The nurse, who appeared in the Mhala regional court in Thulamahashe, near Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga, was given the option of paying a fine of R10000.

The sentence was welcomed by some, but others, including the boy's mother, said it was too lenient.

Interviewed yesterday, the mother said she was disappointed by the sentence.

"This sentence is nothing compared to my son's life," she said.

"I know for sure that my son will one day die of Aids because of this woman.

"But she won't be called to court and charged with murder, meaning that she has won the battle."

But Nkululeko Nxesi, director of the National Association of People living with Aids (Napwa), welcomed the sentence.

"Justice has been done," Nxesi said, but added that he was concerned that the boy would face a difficult life as an HIV-infected person.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) was also concerned about the child's HIV status.

Patricia Maditse, TAC's Limpopo coordinator, said: "The boy's family might be faced with the challenge of having to be put on the waiting list for ARV treatment, or it might have the financial burden of travelling to where ARVs can be given."

Maditse agreed with the boy's mother that the sentence was lenient compared to what the child will have to go through later in life.

The nurse has been given leave to appeal.

At the time of going to press she was still behind bars, having been unable to raise money for pay the R10000 fine.

The boy, who lives with his mother, was visiting his father when he was injected with the HIV-contaminated blood by the nurse, who was living with his father in 2003.

Mpho Gabashane, a spokesman for the provincial health department, said the department would wait for all legal aspects to be finalised before commenting.