Soweto tunes in to hear cheating husbands exposed on air

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Thursday nights are a dangerous time to cheat on your wife in Soweto. It is an evening when men who sleep around risk being unmasked on one of the township's most listened-to radio shows.

Thursday nights are a dangerous time to cheat on your wife in Soweto. It is an evening when men who sleep around risk being unmasked on one of the township's most listened-to radio shows.

Jozi FM, a community radio station, uses private investigators to catch secret lovers in flagrante delicto, then persuade them to come into the studio. The tactics they use are cruel but effective; in some cases the investigators make a scene at the suspect's home until the guilty come out to stop more embarrassment.

In other cases, police ask lovers to come to the police station for questioning on other charges, then take them to the Jozi studio. They say they have a duty to ensure unwilling studio guests reach the offices safely.

"We want to make people too scared to cheat," the Jozi marketing manager, Bonginkosi Sithole, said. "Soweto has a strong sense of community and people are scared of being shamed on air.

"Their worst nightmare is that their friends and family will find out they are HIV-positive on air. We work with that fear."

The show is gripping entertainment but in a country where one fifth of the people are believed to be infected with HIV/Aids, Jozi FM insists it is providing a vital service.

"Men cheat on women all the time in South Africa," said Thanenolo, a presenter of Cheaters. "We give women a chance to air their grievances and warn our audience how easy it is to spread Aids by affairs."

One HIV-positive woman went on air to denounce her boyfriend Philani, who had infected her and other women. She wanted all his potential conquests to know he was infected and that a former girlfriend had already died. She also wanted to admit to her lover, whom she had met after she discovered Philani's infidelity, that she was HIV-positive.

"The new boyfriend was drinking in a bar when the show came on, and when he heard her on air, he drank a crate of brandy and passed out," Thanenolo said. "When he recovered, he moved away from his home town to a place where no one knew him."

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