Associated Press - January 31, 2012
JOHANNESBURG, (AP) - South Africa is recalling 1.35 million
condoms given away at the African National Congress party's
centenary celebrations amid charges some broke during intercourse
and others were porous, an official said Tuesday.
AIDS activist Sello Mokhalipi of the Treatment Action Campaign
said he complained after "we had people flocking in, coming to
report that the condoms had burst while they were having sex."
Some were panicking because they were infected with AIDS and were
concerned for their partners, he said.
Spokesman Jabu Mbalula of the health department of Free State
province, which distributed the condoms before the Jan. 6-8
celebrations, said they had recalled the entire batch of
1,350,000 condoms around Jan. 18. He said there was no need for a
But he was unable to say immediately how many of the condoms were
used or have been recovered.
In 2007, the government had to recall more than 20 million
defective condoms manufactured locally. Media reports said a
testing manager at the South African Bureau of Standards had
taken a bribe to certify the faulty condoms. In 2008 another 5
million defective condoms were recalled.
The latest allegations involve condoms distributed to hotels and
bars in the central city of Bloemfontein, where tens of thousands
of people traveled from all over the country for the ANC
celebrations. South Africa has the world's highest number of AIDS
victims at 5.6 million.
Mokhalipi said the complaints started coming in Jan. 11,
prompting his office to run tests on some of the allegedly flawed
"We poured water into the condoms and they were leaking, not just
in one place, they were leaking like a sieve," he said. Looking
at them, "you can see there are small pores."
He said the health department had distributed a new batch of
condoms last week, which did not leak under the water test.
Health department spokesman Mbalula said pouring water into a
condom and applying pressure was not a proper test, though
Mokhalipi denied applying pressure.
Mbalula said his department recalled the contraceptives to
conduct scientific tests. He did not know when the results of the
tests would be available.
He noted that all the condoms were stamped to indicate that they
were in batches that had been quality tested by the South African
Bureau of Standards, which is responsible for ensuring they meet
the standards of the World Health Organization. Bureau
spokeswoman Verna Schutte confirmed that they were investigating
The AIDS activist, Mokhalipi, said the recall was limited to
department workers going to the hotels, guesthouses and bars
where they had deposited the condoms and reclaiming any that
He complained that the health department had not issued
countrywide warnings to alert people not to use condoms
distributed during the celebrations in Bloemfontein. "People came
from all over and probably took many away with them, so those
condoms are now all over the country," he said.
Those who had used condoms that allegedly had burst should be
told to get post-exposure tests and treatment, he said.
"We want the department to go out and tell people about these
faulty condoms," Mokhalipi said. "How can they say people should
not panic if there are still clearly people out there in
possession of these condoms."
South Africa's government sources its condoms from several
companies and rebrands them with its colorful CHOICE packaging,
in bright blue, red, yellow and green. The government distributed
more than 400 million free condoms in 2010.