Thursday, 16 April 2009

Dear Commissioner

[This is the text of an open letter to the Commissioner of Police. We’ll let you know if we get a response. We didn’t even get an acknowledgement to our last one but we’re always optimistic.]

Dear Commissioner

I would like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to what I believe is a case of serious criminal misconduct. I would be grateful if you would regard this letter as an official complaint to the Police Service.

I accuse a charlatan who calls himself “Dr” Jabu of breaching Sections 396 to 399 of the Penal Code of Botswana.

As you will be aware these Sections of the Penal Code forbid what are called “Prohibited advertisements”. These are advertisements for any medicine, surgical appliance or treatment for a range of medical conditions. The conditions covered are enormously varied but include such things as epilepsy, diabetes, cancer and any sexually transmitted disease.

The law states that anyone who advertises such medicines or treatments, other than in a medical or specialist journal, can be prosecuted and, if found guilty, can be punished by a fine or with a term of imprisonment.

I believe that the so-called “Doctor” Jabu deserves either of these punishments, in my view preferably both.

In an advertisement he placed in a local newspaper last week Jabu offered a wide range of treatments. He stated that he can “treat all types of cancer within 30-45 days”. Of course he doesn’t claim to be able to treat them successfully but I believe that is what he wants the public to believe.

He also claims to be able to treat high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, anaemia and asthma. Later in his advertisement he suggests he offers treatments, all effective within 60 to 90 days, for paralysis, thalassemia, infertility, epilepsy, cataract, muscular dystrophy and “other diseases of the brain”. Clearly Jabu’s knowledge of anatomy and medicine are sketchy at best.

There are two sections of his advertisement that particularly shocked me and that I believe expose him as the criminal fraud that he is. One section offers a “detoxification program”. Of course the whole “detoxification” myth has been exposed by now. A study by a UK group called “Sense about Science” published just after Christmas showed that almost all the so-called detox products on the market in the UK (and they’re available in Botswana as well) made ludicrous claims that were totally unsupported by the facts.

Jabu’s “detoxification program” makes some remarkable claims. His advertisement doesn’t just state that he can “treat” certain dosorders, it claims that he can “prevent all heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes and all kidney diseases”. It then offers “the permanent cure” for disorders such as cervical and prostatic cancers, impotence, dysmenorrhea and “all types of fever”.

As if that wasn’t bad enough another section of the advertisement, in my view the most offensive, goes even further.

Jabu offers treatments for pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, Kaposi’s sarcoma, candidiasis and cryptococcosis amongst others.

As you may know, all of these conditions are known to be closely associated with HIV infection and with AIDS. In effect “Dr” Jabu is offering a treatment for AIDS. I believe that this is scandalous, deliberate and a threat to public safety. I also believe that it undermines our nation’s tremendous efforts to combat the scourge of AIDS using the proven benefits of science and medicine. I believe that permitting frauds, charlatans and fakes like Jabu to advertise their useless but nevertheless dangerous treatments are a threat to our people’s health and well-being.

There is obviously a very significant chance that people suffering from any of the AIDS-related conditions mentioned by Jabu, and in what we can only imagine is a very distressed and unhappy state, may be tempted to abandon their orthodox treatments, the treatments that may prolong and improve their lives and instead waste their money, their health and perhaps even their lives on Jabu’s concoctions.

In the words often used in the United States when discussing the very rare occasions when free speech can be restricted, I believe that Jabu presents a “clear and present danger” to the welfare of Botswana and her people. I urge you to use your powers to investigate Jabu, his illegal advertisements and his presence in Botswana and to take the action that our laws require.

I will supply you with the advertisement and Jabu’s contact details so that you and your officers can investigate this complaint further. The Consumer Watchdog team are at your disposal should you require any further information or assistance.

With best regards

The Consumer Watchdog Team

[A copy of this letter is on our web site along with a copy of Jabu’s advertisement. Let us know what you think about the advertisement. The more support we get the greater the pressure we can apply to the authorities to prevent this sort of danger.]

This week’s stars
  • Kopangwa Andreck form Gaborone City Council. Our reader called the council to report problems with a traffic light. He said that she “answered and made the whole experience unexpectedly pleasant. She offered her name without asking and promised to find out from the engineers what could be done. 15 minutes later she phoned me to advise that she had spoken to the engineers, and they had dispatched a team to go and sort the problem out. The problem has been sorted, and stress levels of thousands of people will be reduced accordingly. I was blown away however when Andreck called me this morning to check whether the problem had been sorted!” See, the Public Service CAN do it.

4 comments:

Saadia said...

Hi...I too am distressed by these people who claim to be able to fix all. I believe that the best way to go would be to get the Ministry of Health involved, since they are the ones advocating for people to take the ARVs and to take the appropriate treatment. I seem to remember someone from M.o.H mentioning that they would like to stop these charlatans from making such adverts. Perhaps such a directive should come from the M.o.H in conjunction with the police. After all, these are health-related matters. Just a thought.

Richard Harriman said...

Excellent idea. Do me a favour and get in touch directly?

Saadia said...

You mean get in touch with you directly or get in touch with the Ministry of Health directly?
ps sorry for the tardy response. I havent been online for a few days.
pps how do we report excellent service to you?

Richard Harriman said...

Please get in touch with me using the watchdog@bes.bw address. You can also use that to celebrate people. Richard