Pregnant women victimised in SA

JOHANNESBURG - Pregnant Zimbabweans in South Africa are allegedly being shunned and ill-treated at local health facilities, accused of working in cahoots with South African men to claim child maintenance grants. A number of women have spoken about their ordeal at the labour unit of Johannesburg Hosp

ital where, the say staff are xenophobic. “They refused to test my blood for HIV and ordered me to return to Zimbabwe to give birth. They accuse me of trying to takeover South Africa by giving birth in the country. Even prisoners are not treated that way. It seems we have committed a crime,” said one woman identified as Tambirai with a three-day-old child. Shuvai Munemo, who has given birth to three children in South Africa over the past seven years said: “It is difficult for a foreign woman to claim the R200 a month child maintenance grant. Hospital staff view us as promiscuous women and not as human beings who want to have their children. During my visit to hospital for my second child the nurses ignored my labour pains and I had to deliver on my own.” The problem facing Zimbabwean pregnant women is compounded by the fact that most of them do not have documentation for them to get treatment. There are also accusations that Zimbabwean women are sidelined on mother to child transmission treatment. The results are ignored even if HIV infection is detected. “After I had given birth to my sick child, I had to go for another test after one month and I was diagonised as HIV positive. The nurses at the hospital only told me not to breastfeed my baby without any explanation. I suspect that the anti-retrovirals are meant only for South African citizens,” said Angela Masungwini. Most pregnant Zimbabweans have resorted to delivering their children at home or in churches where they are being assisted by other refugees. “We are receiving two pregnant women every month and the number is increasing and they have nowhere to go,” said one church official in Johannesburg. The ever-increasing shortage of basic commodities has forced many pregnant women to flee to South Africa, where they can get handouts from well-wishers and opportunities to earn a better living. – CAJ News

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