Bela-Bela, a rural town of predictable disparity and a reflection of South Africa’s unjust history, is the setting for the HIV/AIDS Prevention Group (HAPG). When the organisation was started in 1996, HIV had taken root and AIDS was resulting in high levels of mortality. In a context where treatment was unknown, stigma, fear, political apathy and traditional beliefs allowed the epidemic to continue its spread. HAPG stepped into this ‘perfect storm’, both with the community and as a part of it, to embark upon a journey, the story of which reflects the severe impact of the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. The triumphs of HAPG in the face of such daunting odds are reason enough for its story to be told, pivoting on the individuals that have made it a success.


Where We Operate

Bela Bela is a place that is hard to define. The small bushveld town has steadily changed over the past two decades yet still exudes the shape and form of a difficult past. The topography is also elusive. The flat, dusty veld seems to run unbroken towards a distant horizon marked by mountains. Yet the abundant acacia trees hide a broken country, limiting the view to a few meters. Much remains hidden. Navigation requires a continuous resetting of one’s lens.

Driving northwards on the N1 towards Polokwane and distant Zimbabwe, about 100km north of Pretoria, a mountain range juts out to the west. The Waterberg shimmers in the intense summer heat as a grey-blue barrier. Turning towards these mountains, Bela Bela stands as a gateway to the mineral-rich hinterland beyond.



The current board members as of June 2014 are:

Johan Adams
Cathy Pistorius
Dr NO Ndjeka
Prof Pascal Bessong
Caroline Mabusela
Suzan Maswanganye
Alfpheus Lelaka
Petronella Ramolotja
Cecile Manhaeve
Dr Mahlare

boardSome of the board members L to R Caroline Mabusela, Petronella Ramolotja, Suzy Maswanganye, Cathy Pistorius and Cecile Manhaeve
© G Ndwalane/Oxfam

teams1Sophy engages with a group of community members at the Wellness Clinic in the Bela Bela township
©M Willman/Oxfam


Various teams of people come together to create and provide an effective health care service to the community of Bela Bela. These groups adapt to the changes in context and currently include teams of HIV counsellors, professional nurses, home based carers and program and administration staff members.

Some of the team at Masakhane Clinic, Spa Park Clinic and at the Wellness Clinic at Bela Bela.

masakhane-clinic-teamStaff from the Masakhane Clinic Maria Kanana, Hilaria Simon and Caroline Mabusela on the road leading to the area
©G Ndwalane/Oxfam

The team of nurses at Bela Bela Rebecca Baloyi, Fizo Lelaka, Petronella Ramalotja and Gladys Malete
©G Ndwalane/Oxfam

spa-park-clinic Staff members from the Spa Park Clinic Moeder Goovadia and Mmapula Lasstif
©G Ndwalane/Oxfam
spa-park-clinic HAPG staff members conducting an awareness campaign
©G Ndwalane/Oxfam