The Ministry of Health and Botswana Bureau of Standards have distanced themselves from a vaginal douching foam bath sold in Botswana by a company with connections to opposition leader Duma Boko.
While the company, Hungbots Ltd has been promoting the vaginal foam as a beauty product with medical benefits since 2016, its Director Botswiri Oupa Tsheko has confirmed to this publication that the product has not been approved for pharmaceutical sales by any local regulating authority. Tsheko did however sell the vaginal concoction to a team, sent by this publication, from his office in Fairgrounds in Gaborone.
According to the Hungbots Facebook page, Femifit, is a foam wash made using a variety of ingredients that includes female donkey milk to be applied on the genital area before and after sexual intercourse. The instructions on the packaging of the product indicate that, “Femifit cleanses and optimises the PH value of women’s intimate areas, the soap will not only hydrate and nourish your pubic area as you cleanse it, but will help to reverse its aging process.”
In a sting operation, The Botswana Gazette was able to purchase a 250-ml bottle of the German produced Femifit Foam Wash from Tsheko. After a phone call, Tsheko agreed to meet the undercover journalist at his office where the sale was carried out. Tsheko also offered a lecture on the product’s usage.
It was during a recorded conversation that Tsheko confirmed that their product was not yet sanctioned by either BOBS or Ministry of Health. He agreed that he can sell us the product if we came to his office, pointing out that currently they are unable to sell the Femifit vaginal products through pharmacies because they do not have a certificate and may get in trouble with the authorities.
‘‘BOBS has sent the documents back to the manufacturers for corrections and we are still awaiting the certification’’, Tsheko said while advising the reporter to come and make a purchase.
However, an official at BOBS Peter Mpete contradicted Tsheko’s assertion saying the approval had to be sought from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
While Tsheko is clear that he does not have the approved certification to openly sell the vagina soap in pharmacies, he says the product is approved in Europe and told this publication that he “uses it at my household.” While MOH said it was not aware of the product’s regulation, information indicates that EU certified products may be assimilated in the market without requirement for certification.
MOH spokesperson Doreen Motshegwa said that the Ministry was not aware of the Femifit product and or its regulation locally. “We do not have that product, Femifit, and we are learning of it for the first time through your enquiries,” she told this publication.
MOH sexual reproductive health specialist working under the Drug Regulations Unit Lesego Mokganya also said that they were not aware of the product. “For it to be approved they will have to apply to the Ministry of Health for testing and information related to the product and make a chemical analysis to determine if the provided specifications comply with set regulatory standards.”
She added that it was important to test the chemical composition before it hits the market to see if it matches the brand specifications on the packaging. In South Africa the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act controls the sale, manufacture, importation and exportation of cosmetics along with foodstuffs and disinfectants. Fragrance, cosmetic or toiletry products that claim medicinal ingredients need to be registered with South Africa’s Medicines Control Council. Hungbots says Femifit has “as a beauty product with medical benefits” in their literature.
“It is safe to say it has not been approved because we have never heard about it but we will further liaise with other authorities on the matter,” Mokganya, the sex health expert told this publication.
Four other health experts at Bokamoso Hospital and Princess Marina who were contacted by the publication to establish information about the vagina product all said they had never heard of it nor seen its regulation anywhere.
WHO IS HUNGBOTS?
HungBots Limited the supplier of vaginal douching products, officially opened in 2014 by the then Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry Sadique Kebonang, operates under a franchise agreement with the Hungarian National Trading House (HNTH). The company, under the auspices of HNTH, was touted to facilitate business activity between Botswana and Hungary, with Botswana as a hub for the Southern African region.
During the official opening of the franchise, the Chief Executive officer of Hungary National Trading House (HNTH) told the media that the local chapter of the organisation is operated by local partners HungBots, who include Duma Boko as the Executive Chairman.
He said the company will facilitate trade and business synergies that will see Botswana goods and services permeating Europe, with Hungary as the gateway.
The Hungarian National Trading House (MNKH) was established in 2013 by the Hungarian Government and the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Boko was quoted by the media during the official opening as having said, “We need to capacitate local businesses with skills transfers with those who are more advanced and to open up Botswana products to different markets”.
Boko was also quoted in the media saying that he convinced the Hungarian National Trading House to set up in Botswana after meetings in Harare, Zimbabwe where he echoed the virtues of Botswana as a good trading environment, hinging on its political stability. Boko said the connection with the Hungary National Trading House was established when he addressed a conference facilitated by Centre for Global Dialogue and cooperation (CGDC), an organisation founded by, among others, former Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov.
According to documents obtained from Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA), Boko’s right hand man, Elliot Moshoke, was the Director of HungBots until he resigned on 19th March 2015 whereupon Tsheko was appointed Director. Documentation shows that Boko’s close ally and confidante Nicholas Mathews is listed as the company’s secretary. When quizzed about his role in the company, Mathews asked this publication to provide him evidence of his role, stating that, “I am involved in different companies in different capacities and I rely on black and white, you can conclude as you wish,” he said, denying this publication the opportunity of presenting him information it sourced from the Registrar of Companies.
Boko did not respond to enquiries even though his Whatsapp messenger indicated that he read the questions. Moshoke declined to offer comment but asked this publication to deliver him records from the Registrar of Companies before he could respond.
“Bring evidence first and then we can talk, I have so many companies, over 70 companies and in this country only Ian (Khama) has more registered companies than me,” he bragged while avoiding the questions about the Hungarians funding to set up the company.
Contacted for comment, BOFWA advised against use of products that are not approved by the ministry of health because a woman’s intimate area is very sensitive and can leave them exposed to bad side effects.