Raped man fears HIV infection

Given Mahlalela and Riot Hlatshwayo

Given Mahlalela and Riot Hlatshwayo

The Mpumalanga man who claimed that three women raped him in their vehicle last month says he fears he might have contracted HIV-Aids during the ordeal.

This is despite having received negative results after various tests for HIV.

It is also despite having received Post Exposure Prophylaxis (Pep), an antiretroviral therapy that is administered to rape victims to minimise the risk of contracting HIV-Aids.

The 20-year-old victim from Sibayeni village near Komatipoort told Sowetan that he tested HIV negative at several health institutions.

"I've tested negative but every time I think of the whole incident I start having doubts if I'm really negative," he said.

"I still ask myself what the motive for the rape was," said the man who did not want to be identified.

Members of the Masisukumeni Women Crisis Centre at Tonga confirmed that they had helped the man to access the therapy shortly after police contacted them about the incident.

A Treatment Action Campaign member, Patricia Maditse, said any rape victim should receive Pep as soon as possible.

"It is very important for rape victims to receive Pep within 72 hours after the incident because it helps reduce the chances of HIV transmission," she said.

She said it was, however, also important for the victim to establish his or her HIV status before going for Pep therapy because he or she might already have been positive before the rape.

The man was hitchhiking along the N4 highway near Nelspruit when he was offered a lift in a vehicle with five occupants, including three women.

He told police that the five were smartly dressed and spoke in various languages, including siSwati, Xitsonga, English and Afrikaans.

Tonga police spokesman, Constable Mzwandile Nyambi, said: "The suspects, who were allegedly travelling in a white Toyota Venture, pretended they were headed towards the complainant's destination."

The suspects drove to the Nelspruit Mall where they spent hours conversing among themselves, the man said.

He said he hoped the suspects would eventually head towards his destination.

The man was, however, surprised when the car made a detour and headed towards Barberton.

Somewhere along the way the suspects stopped at an isolated spot where the man was allegedly shot in the foot before being forced to have sex with the three women. He was left on the scene, tired and abused, and was rescued by passers-by.