A woman who breastfed her friend’s baby without the mother’s consent has been detained in police custody.
She faces the more serious charge of deliberately infecting another person with HIV if found to be HIV positive.
39-year-old Annie Mpariwa, who is currently awaiting her HIV test results and those of the baby she breastfed, could be sent to prison for two years.
A blood sample was taken from her and sent for testing.
Should her results turn out to be positive, she will have to wait for the three-month window period to elapse before knowing the baby’s results.
If the baby too tests HIV positive the common nuisance charge would be upgraded to ‘deliberately infecting another person with HIV’ and a trial date set.
The neighbour whose baby was breastfed, Nyasha Mironga also from Zimbabwe says she has been traumatised by Mpariwa’ strange actions.
Narrating the incidents leading to the arrest, Mironga, 32 said that last week Friday her 14- month-old baby was playing in the yard when Mpariwa snatched and hid her in her rented room.
“I was plaiting my sister’s hair and when I finished my baby was missing.
When I looked for her all over the yard and couldn’t find her, I went and knocked on Annie’s door. It was locked and there was no answer.”
“When I looked through the window I saw Annie right there on her bed breastfeeding my baby.
I was so shocked I nearly fainted because I have always suspected her to be sick.
Her breasts are leaking milk yet she is not pregnant and she doesn’t have a baby.
When I asked her why she was breast-feeding my baby, all she could say was that she was sorry.”
Confused and angry Mironga said at first she did not know what to do and that it was only after some neighbours persuaded her to report the matter to the police that she did.
“The incident happened at around 7pm on Friday. I reported the matter the following day and Annie was arrested.”
The visibly upset mother added: “If she turns out to be positive I have to endure another agonising three months wait before I will know whether her milk has infected my baby with HIV or not.”
Meanwhile Superintendent Bonosi Molapisi was reluctant to shed any further light on the matter because he was out of the station when the woman was arrested.
The incident comes in the wake of the newly enacted law on HIV/AIDS that calls for stiffer penalties on people who deliberately infect others with HIV.
Although he would not be drawn into discussing the matter further, Molapisi said the law might be applicable to Mpariwa’s case.
“I am not familiar with details of the breastfeeding incident, but it has always been customary in our courts of law that those convicted of s*xual offences, who are found to be HIV positive, get a much heavier sentence. They are assumed to have deliberately infected their victims,” he said.
Mpariwa was due to appear in court on Tuesday.