Shembe Church denies forced HIV testing

The eBuhleni branch of the Nazareth Baptist Church has denied forcing men intending to wed, to be tested for HIV. Courtesy of #DSTV403

DURBAN - The eBuhleni branch of the Nazareth Baptist Church has denied that they are forcing men intending to wed to be tested for HIV.

Reports emerged of young men being asked to test for the virus, apparently to protect young maidens who have been asked for a hand in marriage.

Male congregants are up in arms, saying this is an infringement of their privacy.

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Lizwi Ncwane, a senior church leader, has disputed this and said the church has not forced anyone to be tested for HIV.

Ncwane said, "the issue of the maidens and the males, or the couple that intend to get married, that is the initiative of the two parties, perhaps with also their families.

"The Church only gets on board when it also has to administer religious rituals as well as to give a blessing to the intended marriage or engagement."

He said the Church has recommended that couples who intend to be married go for tests but insisted they have not forced anyone.

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"We are in South Africa and in the world, where we know that HIV and AIDS are a pandemic.

"So the church is very much alive on that issue when the parties intend to get married, it is important that either of the parties before they get to marriage, they know what they're entering into," Ncwane said.

"It is the prerogative of the Church to make awareness and guide its members but we are not, not even by chance, enforcing or influencing anybody to do that they must do that on their own volition," he explained.

Ncwane stated the Church does not ask whether couples or individuals have been tested and only are concerned that both are marrying of their own free will.


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