|Aniva with a root which he grinds up and adds to water to drink before sex|
An HIV-positive Malawian man has been sentenced to 24 months in jail with hard labour, after being found guilty for having unprotected sex in traditional 'cleansing' rituals
Malawi's President Peter Mutharika had ordered the arrest of Eric Aniva, a sex worker known locally as a "hyena", after he admitted in a BBC interview to having sex with more than 100 women and underage girls and not disclosing his HIV status.
“I convict you to serve 24 months’ imprisonment,” judge Innocent Nebi told Aniva in a packed courtroom in the remote southern district of Nsanje.
On Friday, in the first case of its kind, Aniva was found guilty on two charges after a one-day trial.
His lawyer, Michael Goba Chipeta, said Aniva would appeal against the conviction and the sentence.
Custom in some parts of southern Malawi demands that a man, known as a “hyena”, is paid to have sex with bereaved widows to exorcise evil spirits and to prevent other deaths occurring.
At the request of a girl’s parents, the “hyena” is also paid to have sex with adolescent girls to mark their passage to womanhood after their first menstruation.
The practice of "widow cleansing", when a widow must have sex after her husband dies, was outlawed a few years ago.
Aniva was the subject of a BBC feature into various sexual cleansing practices in Malawi.
The president had wanted him tried for defiling young girls, but none came forward to testify against him.
Instead Aniva was tried for "harmful cultural practice" under section five of Malawi's Gender Equality Act for having sex with new widows.
Aniva, who pleaded not guilty, told AFP immediately after the sentence: “I am disappointed because I thought I would be given a suspended sentence.”