Brink's loony tilt at journos

Anthony Brink, President Thabo Mbeki’s former HIV/Aids muse and now Dr Rath Health Foundation “policy adviser”, has launched an extraordinary attack on a number of South African women journalists, describing them as “pious, industry-sweetheart, trendy-leftie stupid white women” who “employ a similar breathlessly dramatic and sentimental style” in covering HIV/Aids.

Unabashed Aids denialist Brink also describes former Mail & Guardian journalists Jaspreet Kindra and Nawaal Deane, and current M&G editor Ferial Haffajee, as the “fiery pepper” to the “salt” of “stupid white women”.

These remarks appear in his unpublished book Just Say Yes Mr President, in which he purports to document “what’s on the president’s mind” with regards to HIV/Aids. Excerpts have been circulated via e-mail.

This week Brink stood by his comments on the journalists, but refused to talk about the rest of the manuscript, saying it had been fraudulently distributed and was being revised.

I believe people can say what they like, but I don’t like the Rath Foundation intimidating people who write what they don’t like

Other women Aids journalists attacked in the draft in the M&G’s possession are The Star’s Lynne Altenroxel and Health-e News Service staffer Anso Thom, who are described as “airheads”.

The draft also attacks University of KwaZulu-Natal academic Suzanne Leclerc-Madlala and freelance journalist Charlene Smith, who are said to “twitter in the same book club” about sexual violence among African men.

A key target of the draft is Health-e News Service journalist and manager Kerry Cullinan, who is labelled a “drug industry bunny”. Referring to an article by Cullinan in which she says: “The South African man’s reputation is in crisis”, he attributes her viewpoint to her “struggling with why her ex-husband had cuckolded her, because the entire piece grappled with why black men, in her view, should be so promiscuous”.

This week Cullinan said she had no interest in Brink’s personal smears. “The whole personalisation of the conflict is nonsense. I believe people can say what they like, but I don’t like the Rath Foundation intimidating people who write what they don’t like,” she said.

The South African National Editors’ Forum has received a complaint from Health-e about the intimidation of its journalists and is investigating.

Health-e, led by Cullinan, is spearheading a hard-hitting investigation into bizarre vitamin experiments conducted by the Rath Foundation in Khayelitsha. Two people have died.

Kwanele Sosibo

Kwanele Sosibo

Kwanele Sosibo studied journalism at Durban's ML Sultan Technikon before working at Independent Newspapers from 2000 to 2003. In 2005, he joined the Mail & Guardian's internship programme and later worked as a reporter at the paper between 2006 and 2008, before working as a researcher. He was the inaugural Eugene Saldanha Fellow in 2011. Read more from Kwanele Sosibo


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