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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

TAC takes Manto, Rath to court

South African Press Association - Tuesday, 29 Nov 2005

CAPE TOWN - The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has filed an urgent application in the Cape High Court for an interdict against the activities of controversial vitamin salesman Matthias Rath.

It has also asked the court to find Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and her department have a duty to stop Rath, and to order them to report back on what they are doing.

The application is backed by the South African Medical Association, the professional body representing most doctors in South Africa.

In the application, copies of which were released at a media briefing in Cape Town on Tuesday, the TAC accuses Rath and his Dr Rath Health Foundation of selling and distributing unregistered medicines.

The TAC alleges that claims by Rath and the Foundation that their medicines are effective in treating or preventing Aids are false, that they conduct unauthorised and unethical clinical trials on people with Aids, and that they make false statements that antiretroviral drugs are ineffective in treating Aids and are poisonous.

"The Rath respondents have acted contrary to statutes enacted to protect members of the public, including the members of the TAC and those whose interests the TAC seeks to promote," TAC policy co-ordinator Nathan Geffen asserts in a founding affidavit.

The application cites as co-respondents Aids dissident and Medunsa academic Dr Sam Mhlongo, and the government, represented by Tshabalala-Msimang and her director general, Thami Mseleku.

Rath, a German national, has come under fire for his activities in Cape Town's black townships, where the TAC claims he has been conducting illegal experiments.

There have been reports that several of his "patients" have died.

However, he is suing Health-e News service over the reports, along with a number of other individuals and organisations that he feels have defamed him.

TAC itself is suing Rath for defamation, for implying it is in league with pharmaceutical companies in its support for ARVs.

Health ministry spokesperson Sibani Mngadi confirmed that the department had received the TAC court papers.

"The matter has been referred to our legal unit and the department will respond accordingly to this matter," he said.

"We do not agree with the TAC's assertion that antiretroviral drugs are the only scientifically proven intervention to reverse the course of Aids.

"And their latest legal threats will not divert the department of health from its objective of making a series of services available to improve health of people living with HIV and Aids."

These included voluntary counselling and testing, and nutrition including vitamin supplementation.

TAC has in fact claimed not that ARV's are "the only scientifically proven intervention" to reverse Aids, but that they are "the only scientifically proven medicines" to do this.


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