By Mary Taruvinga
PROMINENT Harare preacher, Walter Magaya and his company Aretha Medicines have been fined $700 for manufacturing and marketing a drug he claimed could cure HIV/Aids.
This is after the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries (PHD) founder Tuesday pleaded guilty on behalf of his company to contravening the Medicines and Allied Substances Control Act.
“The accused has made a public apology and since his company is charged, a fine will be appropriate,” said presiding magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa said in her ruling.
“However, in aggravation, this is a serious offence to market the medicine to people who could have ended up defaulting on their treatment.”
Magaya, through his lawyer, had said earlier during the day that he had tried to comply with the law through alerting Health and Child Care Ministry permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji who gave him a cold shoulder.
Magwagwa, in her ruling, dismissed that, saying that was no justification to proceed and illegally market the drug.
“That is neither here nor there,” she said, “the accused person should have followed proper procedures.
“It was still the accused’s responsibility to seek guidance and authority from the health ministry before making such an announcement.”
Mugwagwa added: “The accused cannot now turn and blame the permanent secretary for fallout.”
Through his lawyer, Everson Chatambudza, Magaya had told court that his Aguma drug was authentic as it was tested in India and was approved for properties which could cure HIV.
He said he informed the health ministry of his discovery and intention to go public about it but he was ignored.
Magaya invited the wrath of the law November last year after he made a claim on Aretha Medical website that his medicine could cure HIV/Aids and other cancer-related diseases.
He followed this with a press briefing claiming that they had conducted some clinical trials and concluded that Aguma could cure the diseases.
Verifications were made with the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe on their records and it was established that Aguma was not a registered medicine in Zimbabwe.
On October 31, police obtained a warrant of search and seizure at the Harare Magistrates’ Court and raided Magaya’s premises where they recovered some unregistered prescription preparatory medicines, packaging machines and drug manufacturing raw materials and 20 bags containing empty capsules, plastic containers and plastic container lids.
Magaya allegedly destroyed some of the exhibits by flushing them down his office toilets and burning some of the containers which were however recovered half burnt.
Court heard several Aguma sachets and torn sachets were also recovered in an office bin next to the church’s call centre office.