Marvelon family planning pills are free in Zimbabwe, however it has been found that certain individuals have been smuggling the pill into South Africa, and selling them.
Ground Up uncovered the scheme in which a woman, only known as Nancy, and her business partner travel to Zimbabwe to stock up on Marvelon, then sells them at a healthy profit to other Zimbabweans in SA.
Nancy’s suppliers are hospital staff in Zimbabwean hospitals who sell the pills to her for R5 a blister pack, the publication reports.
“We also supply other people who sell in places like Daveyton‚ Tsakane‚ Duduza [where her business partner operates]‚ Nigel and Brakpan. We also advertise through our Apostolic Church‚ which has many branches‚” says Nancy.
Nancy says she has a 100 customers a month in Springs alone‚ and she sells the packets for R20 to bulk buyers or R30 to individuals. By contrast‚ GroundUp found that Marvelon tablets sold for about R130 per 28 tablets in Johannesburg pharmacies.
One customer told GroundUp: “When I asked for the pills I used to use in Zimbabwe at the local clinic in KwaThema‚ they said they do not have them‚” she says.
Another one said‚ “A nurse told me to go to Zimbabwe if I want those pills‚ because they do not have them. I can’t go to Zimbabwe just for contraceptives. They gave me other pills. I did not like them very much‚ because I had used the other type for a long time. I then decided to buy the ones they bring from Zimbabwe.”