2002: Mbeki Distances Himself from Dissidents
By April 2002, in the wake of vociferous international and local criticism, President Thabo Mbeki had distanced himself from AIDS denialists. In April 2002, Mbeki instructed the health minister to write letters to dissidents requesting them not to use his name when signing letters or documents, according to a Sunday Times report. Some dissidents had signed "Member of President Mbeki's AIDS Advisory Panel" in dissident literature.
The report said Mokaba was also silenced by the government and that Mbeki "will refrain from expressing his personal views in public and will instead reiterate the official position when questioned on Aids". However, this was not the last time Mbeki's views on AIDS science were questioned.
In September 2003, The Washington Post reported Mbeki as saying, "Personally, I don't know anybody who has died of AIDS." Asked whether he knew anyone with HIV, he reportedly said, "I really, honestly, don't." At the time, the newspaper reported one in 10 South Africans — nearly 5-million people — was infected with HIV according to government statistics (BBC story).