Defence Ministry says Sisulu didn’t ignore court on Aids policies


Primedia’s Eyewitness News reports the South African Security Forces’ Union (SASFU) will approach the North Gauteng High Court today to apply for an arrest warrant against Sisulu.

The union claims she is ignoring a court ruling forcing the SANDF to change its policy of not deploying personnel infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) on peacekeeping missions.

Sisulu`s spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya says new policies are being created and will be implemented soon.

“This court judgment was in December 2008, Minister Sisulu was appointed in May 2009 and after her appointment we have had a number of meetings with the sergeant general and the team that is working on the Aids policy,” Mabaya told Eyewitness News.

Neither Mabaya or defence head of communication Siphiwe Dlamini could be reached this morning.  

The Pretoria News this morning reports the court order was in fact handed down last year May.

SASFU president Bhekinkosi Mvovo yesterday said “that to date nothing had been done in this regard and the order was simply being ignored,” the paper says. reported in May 2007 that the Aids Law Project (ALP), acting on behalf of SASFU had that month challenged the military on its use of HIV testing with regards to employment, deployment, promotions and transfer, saying that the policies discriminated against HIV-positive (HIV+) members.

“Over the years the SANDF has justified its HIV testing policy and its implementation on such grounds as, the military has a duty to protect the Republic, there is a need to keep HIV prevalence low in the military, people living with HIV are medically unsuitable and unable to withstand stress, physical exercise, adverse climatic conditions, etc, foreign deployment conditions are too harsh for people living with HIV, HIV+ members pose a risk to others the need to comply with the United Nations regulations with regard to deployment of peacekeepers,” SASFU said in a statement announcing its court bid.

The ALP added that there was no basis for the assumption that HIV infection in itself renders a person physically unfit or mentally unstable.

When the matter went to court before North Gauteng High Court Judge Claasen in May last year, the SANDF unexpectedly capitulated on a 14-year-old position and conceded its position was unconstitutional.  

The SASFU application was thus made an order of court. The ALP afterwards said the order meant the SANDF could “no longer automatically exclude HIV positive people from recruitment, external deployment and promotion”. The military was further given six months from May 17 to amend its health classification policy to allow “for individualised health assessments of recruits and current members of the armed forces”.

ALP head Mark Heywood in April told defenceWeb the SANDF “only provided us with a copy of the draft in late November. We then made submissions on that draft that seem to have sat on someone`s desk for the last few months.

“Now SASFU wants the entire matter dealt with urgently…”