South African Inkatha Freedom Party Leader Buthelezi Announces Second Child Dead of AIDS-Related Causes
South African Inkatha Freedom Party Leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Saturday at the funeral of his 48-year-old daughter Princess Mandisi Sibukakonke said that she died from AIDS-related causes, Agence France-Presse reports. Buthelezi has had two adult children die from the disease in four months, according to Agence France-Presse (Agence France-Presse, 8/9). In April, Buthelezi told thousands of mourners attending the funeral of his 53-year-old son Prince Nelisuzulu Benedict Buthelezi that he died of AIDS-related causes. Buthelezi, who previously has been critical of the government's slow response to HIV/AIDS, has said that HIV/AIDS is the biggest challenge facing the country (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/3). Buthelezi is "one of the few public figures to speak candidly" about HIV/AIDS, according to Reuters/Washington Post. "Tragically, Mandisi's untimely death should have been averted, for she also succumbed to the disease that is unmercifully mowing down many of our people," Buthelezi said, adding, "As you know, this is the second child that I have lost this year to this dreadful disease, the pandemic of AIDS. When will our nation and government comprehend that we have no greater calling and mission than to deal with this terrible emergency?" (Reuters/Washington Post, 8/8). Buthelezi also "questioned" the role of the government and "ordinary South Africans" in the fight against the disease, the South African Press Association reports. "We have done too little," he said, adding, "How much more suffering and pain shall we bear before those who have the responsibility open their hearts?" (South African Press Association, 8/7).
Buthelezi's public acknowledgement of HIV/AIDS has garnered "praise" from advocacy groups, according to South Africa's Star. Mazwi Mngadi, provincial coordinator of the National Association of People Living with AIDS, said that it is "encouraging to see a leader like Buthelezi coming out to reveal the cause of death of his daughter." Sipho Mthathi, Treatment Action Campaign spokesperson, said, "We hope that South Africans have now learned that HIV/AIDS is not a disease that affects only the poor but affects everyone," adding, "We hope the government will speed up the rollout of antiretroviral drugs" (Ngqulunga, Star, 8/9). The administration of South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has said that he did not know anyone who has died of AIDS-related causes and in the past questioned the causal link between HIV and AIDS, "has been accused of dragging its feet" over the rollout of a national HIV/AIDS treatment program, according to Reuters/Post (Reuters/Washington Post, 8/8).