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Saturday 2 August 2008

Canada: Another African migrant 'guilty' of HIV exposure, gets seven years

A 34 year-old Zimbabwean migrant, Tendai Mazambini, has been sentenced by an Ontario judge to seven years in prison following a guilty plea to aggravated sexual assault because he didn't disclose his HIV status to eight women before having consensual, unprotected sex. None of the women became HIV-positive. Mr Mazambini has been in custody since his arrest in November 2006.

Aside from the ridiculously harsh sentence, several things stand out about this particular Canadian HIV exposure case – sadly, one of many this year – and the way it is being reported.

After he was first charged, in October 2006, Mr Mazambani stabbed himself with a knife while police were searching his home. This is what the prosecution had to say about Mr Mazambini's traumatic experience:

"Inflicting injury on himself was not conducive to the safety of those around him," [Crown prosecutor] Beasley said. "None of the police officers tested positive after."

It also seems that the judge, Justice Johanne Morissette - who previously sentenced a Trinidadian immigrant to five years for HIV transmission but also presided over the dismissal of a white, gay HIV exposure case – felt that seven years for HIV exposure where no transmission took place was lenient.

"Your conduct . . . demonstrates complete disregard for the value of life," Morissette said.

"The most important mitigating factor is that miraculously, none of your victims have tested positive."

And, although the local paper, the London Free Press, hasn't overly sensationalised the story (probably because these convictions are now commonplace in London, Ontario) a news website in Mr Mazambini's country of birth,, reports exactly the same story with a different headline:

HIV fiend who had unprotected sex with 8 women jailed in Canada

London Free Press story in full below.

Man sentenced to seven years
Tendai Mazambani, 34, didn't reveal to his eight sexual partners that he was HIV positive

Tendai Mazambani had sex with eight women without revealing he was HIV positive.

The 34-year-old London man was sentenced to seven years in prison yesterday by Superior Court Justice Johanne Morissette for eight counts of aggravated sexual assault.

"The most important mitigating factor is that miraculously, none of your victims have tested positive," Morissette said.

Given credit for 20 months in custody, Mazambani will serve another four years.

The offences began in February 2003 and ended in the fall of 2006. Many of the women told police that they never would have engaged in unprotected sex with Mazambani had they known his HIV status.

Three victims appeared in court yesterday to watch the sentencing. One woman dabbed tears from her eyes.

"I'm sorry for what I did. I have taken many wrong choices in my life," Mazambani said to the court. "I'm glad people didn't get anything from me."

Born in Zimbabwe, Mazambani came to Toronto in 2001 as a political refugee with his wife. After having difficulty starting a family, Mazambani took his spouse to a Toronto hospital where they discovered she was HIV positive.

Mazambani also tested positive and was advised by a doctor about his responsibilities as a person with HIV.

"He had difficulty reconciling in his mind that he would be HIV positive for the rest of his life and he had difficulty understanding what that meant," defence lawyer Glen Donald said.

In 2003, he began a sexual relationship with a woman in Toronto and moved to London with her. They broke up by November 2004.

Over the next two years, Mazambani had a series of overlapping relationships in which he had unprotected, consensual sex with seven women in London. To this day, Mazambani remains married to his wife.

He was charged in October 2006 after several women came forward. A month later, Mazambani stabbed himself with a knife when police were checking on allegations that he was breaching a court order by living with a woman.

The woman was as much party to the breach as Mazambani, said Middlesex Crown attorney Geoff Beasley. Mazambani was arrested in November 2006 and has been in custody since then.

"Inflicting injury on himself was not conducive to the safety of those around him," Beasley said. "None of the police officers tested positive after."

In a joint submission, Beasley and Donald asked for seven years with credit for the guilty plea and significant time served.

Mazambani will also have to submit his DNA for the federal sex offender registry and comply with the law's regulations upon release.

"Your conduct . . . demonstrates complete disregard for the value of life," Morissette said.



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