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News > World

Zimbabwe Pastor Convicted For Peddling Natural ‘HIV Cure’

  • Blood sample collected during a free HIV testing in Bangkok September 20, 2014.

    Blood sample collected during a free HIV testing in Bangkok September 20, 2014. | Photo: Reuters file

Published 6 February 2019

Pastor Magaya's Aguma ‘cure’ consists of employing a type of medicine with ‘magical powers’ to allegedly destroy AIDS in 14 days.

A Zimbabwean church leader, Walter Magaya, was convicted Monday and fined US$700 by a Harare court for announcing he had found a cure for HIV/AIDS, in violation of the Medicines Control Act.

WHO Report: Life Expectancy in Africa Significantly Improved

Magaya, who heads the Healing and Deliverance church and is one of the directors of the Aretha Medical Pvt Ltd, pleaded guilty to the charge related to the Aguma medication which was alleged to have been the cure for the AIDS virus.

The Harare magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa ruled that the church leader is putting health at risk in Zimbabwe by overstepping the medical protocols put in place by public health authorities to develop and distribute HIV/AIDS medications.

Magaya’s Aguma ‘cure’ consists of employing a type of medicine with ‘magical powers’ to destroy AIDS in 14 days.

“The herb is 100% organic. Why I say so is because we found out there are no side effects,” said Magaya regarding his so-called cure.

Despite confidence in Aguma, at the time law enforcement conducted a search of Magaya's storage space the clergyman's staff tossed out all the stock they could, destroying "some of the exhibits by flushing them in the office toilets and burning containers which were, however, recovered half-burnt,” the charge sheet detailed.

Magaya did not completely cave under pressure to investigate the effectiveness of the alleged cure but admitted to having avoided the required health ministry’s approval.

Mugwagwa slammed the recklessness, “It still remained the duty of the accused to verify before making the announcement... There are stipulations put in place, one of them being to safeguard people’s health. The accused is hereby ordered to pay US$700.”

The Zimbabwean justice focused on the aspect of health protocols rather than the issue of an individual or collective belief about HIV/AIDS. “The issue is not about the HIV and AIDS cure, that issue is neither here nor there, but the issue is Aretha Medical was supposed to follow the procedures required,” Mugwagwa said.

In Zimbabwe, during 2017, UNAIDS  reported 1.3 million people living with HIV, of which 13.3% are between the ages of 15-49, with 41,000 news infections and 22,000 AIDS-related deaths.

In context, Africa has seen a decrease in deaths related to lower respiratory infections, HIV and diarrheal diseases, between 2000 and 2015, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report.  

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