'Prophet' Who Claimed to Discover HIV and Cancer Cure Secures Government Support for Clinical Trial

A self-proclaimed prophet, arrested after claiming his herbal remedies could cure people of HIV and cancer, has now secured government support for clinical trials of his controversial drug.

Walter Magaya, the leader of the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries group in Zimbabwe, appeared in court last week charged with producing misleading advertisements for his medicines, Zimbabwe's The Herald newspaper reported.

But in a surprising twist, the government released Magaya on bail and has now agreed to put his "medicine" through clinical testing, with some of his own employees on the investigative team.

Prosecutors allege that Magaya produced television adverts for his Aguma drug, which he claimed could cure HIV, AIDS, cancer and other illnesses. These claims were repeated on the website of his Aretha Medical company.

Magaya said his medicine had undergone clinical tests proving its effectiveness, claiming to have had the data verified by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe. But the court heard that Aguma had not even been registered with the body.

Neither Magaya nor Aretha Medical had been cleared to carry out any clinical tests by the country's Health Professions Authority. The preacher instead claimed his company had carried out the trials in India in partnership with local backers.

Announcing his "discovery," Magaya claimed to have realized the power of his drug two years ago, but kept it a secret until he could collect the proof he needed.

According to zwnews.com, Magaya told his congregation last month, "God has given me a revelation. We tested it and it's perfect. God showed me a certain tree and certain people. We have found the cure for HIV and AIDS."

Police raided a property linked to Magaya in the capital Harare on October 31, discovering unregistered medicines, raw materials used in their production, and drug manufacturing and packaging machines.

Half-burned containers were also found, and prosecutors allege that Magaya had tried to destroy evidence of his crimes by burning the packaging and even flushing Aguma down the toilets. He was arrested the following day.

Despite his apparently groundless promotion of the drug, Magaya was released on bail and his case remanded until November 29. But even more surprising is that authorities have now agreed to conduct their own clinical trials of Aguma—with Magaya's help.

The preacher has now retracted his previous claim that Aguma could cure the diseases in question, though told reporters: "According to what the ministry has assured us, we are going to run very intense trials until they have come up with a position on the plant."

Zimbabwe's Minister of Health and Child Care, Obadiah Moyo, said the trials would be funded by Magaya and staffed by members of his team and government officials from several independent bodies, The Herald reported.

"Everyone will be checking each other so that we do not come out with any falsification of results. We are an authority, a ministry, we are genuine and will make sure that whatever we do will be in line with laid-down laws," Moyo explained.

"We want discoveries in Zimbabwe," Moyo continued. "But for this particular one because it started as a controversial product it is in everyone's interest that it goes through a through testing process, a rigorous and scientific process so that at the end of the day we can say it was relevant or not," the minister added.

In a statement issued to The Chronicle newspaper, the World Health Organization said there is currently "no cure for HIV, although antiretroviral treatment can control the virus, meaning that people with HIV can live long and healthy lives."

Both Moyo and the WHO urged HIV and AIDS sufferers to continue approved treatments until Magaya's claims had been fully investigated.