State sued over teacher who forced pupil to take HIV test

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

A Mpumalanga woman is suing the Education Department for R500000 after a school teacher allegedly forced her daughter to have HIV tests without the family's consent.

The family alleges the privacy of their 16-year-old daughter, Thoko, and the confidentiality of her HIV tests results were violated when the school teacher allegedly ordered the epileptic girl to undergo the tests.

Judith Hlatshwayo of Middelburg said she had instructed her attorney to file a lawsuit against the department after Thoko was forced to have blood tests to determine if she had Aids.

Judith said the teacher thought Thoko had infected her with HIV after she reportedly collapsed in front of her and accidentally scratched the teacher's arm.

"The wound bled and the teacher suspected my daughter may have infected her with HIV," said Hlatshwayo.

She said the teacher initially phoned her asking for permission to take Thoko for blood tests after the incident.

"I said I could not allow her to do that because Aids tests are an individual's secret," she said.

"But I was shocked when I was phoned by a doctor to inform me that my child was HIV-negative."

After the call, the mother asked her daughter what had happened.

She told her that her teacher had forced her to take blood tests at a private laboratory because "I might have infected her with Aids".

Thoko said the teacher insisted on the blood tests because she feared she may be infected.

"I was not counselled before I took the test," Thoko said.

Simon Sitswane, the family's attorney, said the family had decided to sue the department because of the trauma suffered.

"We will also take the doctor and the laboratory that performed the tests to task," said Sitswane.

The teacher allegedly signed as Thoko's guardian.

The department's spokesman Hlahla Ngwenya, said they were aware of the incident.

"We are investigating possible charges against the teacher," Ngwenya said.