Aids denialist attacks Suresh Roberts

2007-11-16 00:00

AIDS denialist Anthony Brink has struck back at his one-time close friend, controversial author Ronald Suresh Roberts, accusing him of being a liar and a plagiarist and of misrepresenting President Thabo Mbeki's view on HIV/Aids.

Brink has written up an account of his interactions with Roberts in a 376-page book called Lying and Thieving: the Fraudulent Scholarship of Ronald Suresh Roberts, which is available to be downloaded or bought for R120 from a website called www.lyingandthieving.com.

He describes Roberts as “an extensive plagiarist, a fabricator and falsifier of history, and the author of a colossal literary fraud, and accordingly so grossly unprofessional and discreditable a writer that he's unfit to be relied upon for any purpose, not even for directions to the post office”.

Brink's self-published book is in response to Roberts's own book, Fit to Govern: The Native Intelligence of Thabo Mbeki that was launched in June.

In it, Roberts claims that Mbeki “ is not now, nor has he ever been, an Aids dissident”. Roberts also makes various derogatory comments about Brink. However, Brink claims that Mbeki was “rather less enthusiastic about [Roberts's] book than its author and his political patron, Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad”.

“This is because, concerning his thinking on Aids - the big issue the book promised to explain - Mbeki thought it complete garbage,” says Brink.

In contrast, says Brink, Mark Gevisser's book Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred tells “the remarkable story of how Mbeki moved to set the record straight”. Gevisser's version of Mbeki's views on HIV and Aids supports Brink's view rather than Roberts's.

Gevisser describes how, in the same month that Roberts's book was published, Mbeki phoned him late on a Saturday night to ask him whether he had seen the controversial Aids denialist document called “Castro Hlongwane, Caravans, Cats, Geese, Foot & Mouth and Statistics”.

The following day, an updated version of the Hlongwane document, initially distributed in the ANC by the late Peter Mokaba in 2002, was delivered to Gevisser. While Mbeki denied he was the sole author, he told Gevisser that it accurately represented his views. He would have read Roberts's book by then.

A central thesis of the Hlongwane document is the rejection “as illogical the proposition that Aids is a single disease caused by a singular virus, HIV”.

“There is no question as to the message Thabo Mbeki was delivering to me along with this document: he was now, as he has been since 1999, an Aids dissident,” says Gevisser.

Brink's book, aside from a defence of Mbeki as an Aids denialist, is also a bitter attack on his erstwhile friend, Roberts, who he felt used his knowledge then betrayed him by making various nasty comments about him in his book.

Brink and Roberts seem well suited to go head-to-head.

Brink himself is a master of vicious attacks on those who disagree with him and acknowledges in another of his self-published books that “playing the man not the ball” is one of his tactics.

He has a particular hatred for the Treatment Action Campaign's Zackie Achmat. In a submission to the International Court at the Hague, he said that Achmat should be “restrained on a gurney with cable ties around his ankles, wrists and neck … until he gives up the ghost on them, so as to eradicate this foulest, most loathsome, unscrupulous and malevolent blight on the human race, who has plagued and poisoned the people of South Africa”.

Meanwhile, Roberts is also renowned for being unpleasant. He recently lost a defamation case against the Sunday Times after it wrote an article describing him as “unlikeable”.

In dismissing Roberts's case, Acting Judge Leslie Weinkove found that Roberts is a public figure who “has been involved in robust public discourse, including harsh, venomous criticism of other public figures”.

He also described Roberts as “haughty and arrogant”.

- Health-e News Service.

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