By MPHO HLAPISI
Close to a cool R1, 3million was raised for the Sport Heroes Against HIV/AIDS initiative last night at the fund-raising gala dinner held at the SASCOC offices, Houghton.
Now entering its ninth year, a group of prominent sporting stars have taken the road to promote Sport Heroes Walk Against HIV/AIDS, an annual event meant to conscientious the public about the pandemic.
Sport Heroes Walk Against HIV/AIDS is the brainchild of Cynthia Chaka, one of the country’s sought after personality, who alongside other sporting athletes realized that, this virus tends to affect and infect sporting stars.
“The HIV/AIDS virus has become a global problem, particularly in marginalized communities. The implementation of this initiative is to highlight to those communities that, HIV/AIDS can be won by taking care of ourselves and the environment we live in,” said Chaka.
Fire-brand, Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula who has a tendency of arriving late at functions, said the people of South Africa have reminded us once again that more of the pain and suffering that women, children and people living with the HIV/AIDS have to endure.
He quoted Chilean born author Isabel Allende in her book City of The Beasts:” Humanity has evolved from the powerful brutal forces to the measured and compassionate societies.”
“The Ministry of Sport has heeded the call once again from the President and we are delighted to join hands with Sport Heroes Walk Against Aids on this important campaign to provide joint vision and mission to fight against the epidemic and remove the burden and suffering in our households, use sport as a tool to fight and change peoples lives, revive spirit and culture of sporting tournaments from local, provincial and national competitions,” says Mbalula.
The Minister also reiterated that the department will also look into the situation of cash-strapped “Baby Jake” Matlala, who has been the patron and champion of this project since its inception.
Various leading sport figures such as Lucas Radebe, Dr Ali Bacher, Bruce Ramokadi, Caster Semenya, and businessmen Murphy Morobe, and the Guptas family graced the this important gathering.
However, the night belonged to the vibrant Mandisa Dlamini from KZN who gave a chilling account on how her AIDS infected mother was brutally killed for disclosing her status to her community.
Confident and articulate in her speech, the 24 year-old said, after the brutal slaying of her mother, she had to fend for her siblings by working at taverns wearing mini-skirts, thus she was attempted to turn into prostitution.
“There was this ladies group called Amantombazana which sold their bodies for nothing just to get over the day. I almost joined them but fortunately, I was taken-in by the lady to Pretoria who took care of me until today. No one knew were I was until this evening,” said tearful Mandisa.
As part of MTN Foundation giving back, her mothers’ house will be converted into museum in partnership with MTN. This was confirmed by the Chief Corporate Officer at MTN Robert Madzonga.
Lebogang Maile, MEC for Sport in Gauteng also promised that his department will define its role on how to aid Mandisa.
Judge Edwin Cameron, who is living with the virus, pointed out that, close to 6 million citizens in SA and 60 millions throughout Africa were affected by this deadly disease.
“Political and business leadership indeed is needed to try and fight this epidemic which has ravaged the less fortunate. If we turn a blind-eye we will suffer greatly, and that’s the last thing we need after apartheid. HIV/AIDS is now a social problem.”
The timing of the walk coincides with the national Sixteen Days of Activism Campaign.
The walk begins on November 19 at Duduza Multipurpose Centre, and proceed to Sinaba stadium, Ekurhuleni and ends in Sebokeng on December 1.