It wasn’t quite the Magic Johnson moment the South African Football Players Union billed it as but Thabang Sefatsa said he disclosed his HIV-positive status to encourage players living with the virus to come out.
At a low-key Gauteng provincial government HIV/Aids awareness event in Pretoria, South Africa, a former Roses United attacking midfielder, Thabang Sefatsa, revealed he was living with HIV since being diagnosed in 2013, after which he retired from the game, then aged 34.
In 2012 former Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs striker, Thabang Lebese’s mother, Florence Machaka revealed that her son had died of an HIV-related illness. Premier Soccer League chairman, Irvin Khoza lost his daughter Zodwa to the disease in 2006.
Sefatsa, 36, said PSL players’ fear of losing their livelihoods prevented them from coming out.
“They can’t disclose. They are scared. They know they are top players and think they can’t. They are stubborn, but it needs two or more players to talk and others might follow.
“I know, from my experience, that some club owners prevent them. I played in the National First Division, but even now I get sent nasty SMSes because of what I said.
“Some of them are definitely positive, but they remain fit. There’s a time [illness] will come and they run the risk of getting weaker.”
Sefatsa said, however, he had never been treated differently by his teammates after disclosing his status.