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Canada rescues ex-Byo cop

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Holy Moyo would most certainly have been dead a long time ago had Canada not offered him a place to call home.

Three years ago, the 46-year-old HIV-positive man was accepted as a refugee from Zimbabwe, a country with almost no HIV treatment and where life expectancy is only 48.

If Aids had not killed him, the former police officer would have likely fallen victim to (President) Robert Mugabe’s repressive government.

Moyo now hopes to live to 100.

“As you can see, I’m doing very well, thank you,” he said with a confident chuckle.

Seven years ago, Moyo was at death’s door.
But there was no anti-retroviral medication available in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city — only antibiotics to treat opportunistic infections.

A friend told him that Doctors Without Borders had opened a clinic in town that was treating HIV patients free of charge.

Moyo was one of the first to sign up. His CD4 count, which measures the strength of the immune system, was dangerously low.

“I had one foot in the grave,” he said.
And Moyo’s health was not the only threat to his life at the time.

During his time as a police officer, Moyo had become angry at being “an instrument of suppressing the people,” and having to shoot, beat and teargas people in order to enforce President Mugabe’s iron grip on the country.

Moyo began reading newspapers that were not controlled by the State.

On one occasion, he did not go to vote with the rest of the police officers, who were directed where to mark their “x” by their superiors; he went to a primary school to vote in private and was observed doing so.

On several occasions during his time with the police, he returned home to find his house had been searched.

Moyo resigned his position in 2004, left the police compound and went to live in a township.

That was where government intelligence agents tracked him down in the middle of the night.

They tortured him and left him in a ditch for dead. He eventually came to and crawled home; his injuries were so severe that his wife and child screamed when they saw him.

It was then the pair realised they needed to leave the country. Moyo took his daughter to live with her grandmother.

Moyo crossed the Limpopo River, which forms the border with South Africa, with nothing but the clothes on his back, some money from selling his possessions, his Zimbabwe identification card and his Aids medical records.

He joined his wife in a South African border town.
They spent several weeks in another small town, but because they were undocumented refugees who would be deported straight into the hands of Zimbabwe’s intelligence ministry if discovered, decided to try to “disappear” into the vast metropolis of Johannesburg, as so many of their compatriots had done before.
There, they were directed to a support centre for Zimbabwean victims of torture.

Staff at the centre got Moyo into hospital, where his wounds, which had become infected, were treated and his anti-HIV medications resumed.

South African police got Moyo and his wife the appropriate documentation as refugees and human rights lawyers put them in touch with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the hope that a permanent home could be found for them.

For a time, it looked like that home would be Australia, but they soon found out that that country did not accept HIV-positive refugees.

So the UNHCR officials suggested Moyo and his wife try Canada.

Months after they had applied, Moyo and his wife were informed they would be leaving for Canada in six days.
This was not enough time to get their daughter out of Zimbabwe to join them.

They left without her in May 2008, and Moyo now has two grandchildren in Zimbabwe he has never met.

Moyo is now being treated at the Immunodeficiency Clinic at St Paul’s Hospital, a world away from the clinic where he used to get antibiotics in Bulawayo.

He now takes one pill a day — with no side effects — for his HIV, has studied social work and is working on a casual basis at the Lookout Emergency Aid Society. — The Vancouver Sun

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