An HIV-positive B.C. man jailed for knowingly having unprotected sex
with four women can take a Victoria-area correctional centre to the B.C.
Human Rights Tribunal, after arguing the prison did not provide him
with proper HIV treatment.
Charles Mzite, who is halfway through a 10-year sentence, alleges he
was repeatedly denied access to antiretroviral drugs while being held
the Wilkinson Road Jail.
The complaint “raises an access to medication issue that potentially
impacts the rights of numerous provincial prisoners,” said Mzite,
according to a 14-page decision document filed last week by the
In March 2009, Justice Robert Johnston of the B.C. Supreme Court
convicted him on four counts of aggravated sexual assault, calling his
offence “profoundly selfish.”
The well-known Zimbabwean musician and dancer came to Canada in May
2001, on a visitor’s visa. He later obtained refugee status, although
the details of his application have not been made public.
After settling in Victoria, he became a member of Jambanga, a lively marimba band that plays on the streets during the summer.
In August 2007, Jambanga were commissioned by Jimmy Pattison, the B.C. billionaire, to give a private concert for Oprah Winfrey.
Mzite’s Zimbabwean wife died in 2000, seemingly from complications
related to AIDs. In 2007, Mzite told Sergeant Scott McGregor of Victoria
Police he knew he was infected with HIV as far back as 1995.
He was found to have misled or outright lied to his sexual partners about his infection status from 2001 to 2005.
“He worked very hard to convince me he was HIV-negative,” one victim told the court.
The four women eventually learned of Mzite’s condition through rumours spreading through Victoria’s African music community.
One victim, identified in court documents as J.H., testified she
found out after being pulled aside in a grocery store lineup by T.,
another former lover of Mzite, who had already tested positive for HIV.
When she confronted Mzite after the encounter, he “laughed,” J.H. told the court.
A team of four officers arrested Mzite in September, 2007 after T. went to the police.
“This is not about revenge or getting him put away. The only reason
I’m here is that women and children just keep getting hurt,” she later
told the Supreme Court, referring to the fact some of Mzite’s victims
are single mothers.
During his two years he spent in Wilkinson Road awaiting trial (he
was moved to a prison in Abbotsford after his conviction), Mzite told
the tribunal his HIV treatment was interrupted 36 times, with noticeable
In 2008, a Victoria infectious disease specialist wrote to the prison
to say the man’s “viral load has climbed” and warned this “suggest[s]
that he may be missing doses,” according to documents filed with the
Mzite lodged his application more than two years after his time at Wilkinson.
This violates the B.C. Human Rights Code’s requirement complaints
“must be filed within six months of the alleged contravention.”
Nevertheless, tribunal member Marlene Tyshynski allowed him to proceed
on the basis “it is in the public interest to do so.”
The “complaint offers the Tribunal a rare opportunity to address this novel and serious allegation,” she wrote.
Mzite’s immigration status remains in limbo after his conviction. The
Canada Border Services Agency has not confirmed whether any removal
proceedings had been started against Mzite.
Tags: Charles Mzite, HIV, Prison, Human rights, drugs, treatment, aids, British Columbia, Victoria
Location: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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