By Candes Keating
The controversial Matthias Rath, well known for opposing the use of anti-retrovirals, believes those who back them are participating in crimes against humanity.
During a press conference in Cape Town on Wednesday, Rath held up an A3-size colour photograph, depicting himself standing at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and warned that this was where journalists, organisations and medical professionals who were spreading negative and false messages about his "vitamins" would face charges.
According to Rath, anti-retrovirals are poisonous and those who encourage their use are participating in crimes against humanity.
Rath said he was actively compiling a list and warned that many who were at Wednesday's briefing were already on it.
A supporter of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, he said pharmaceutical companies were "keeping diseases alive so that they can make money".
Rath stressed that the press conference was not his idea, but that of people living with HIV/Aids who were using his vitamins and wanted to "show the world" that he was speaking "the truth".
A group of 20 patients from the Silondoloze Vitamin Programme in Khayelitsha, who receive free vitamins from the Dr Rath Health Foundation, testified to the use of vitamins instead of anti-retrovirals.
Currently, 180 people are using the vitamins.
Zola Gebenga, 20, said: "I am living proof that Dr Rath's vitamins help." Already two months into treatment, she said her boils had cleared up, she no longer felt pain and she had regained her appetite.
Gebenga said many of the people she knew who were using anti-retrovirals were dying daily while her health kept on improving.
Nonfudiswa Klaas, 20, who only started using the vitamins two weeks ago, said she had already seen changes in her health.
"I used to cough the whole night," she said. "Now I don't anymore." Like all the others who testified, Klaas said her appetite had improved rapidly.
Boniswa Mavukuzo, 31, who discovered her HIV status while pregnant said: "When I started to use the pills, things started to improve. I am not saying that I am cured, but I am better."
She said she would continue to "preach about the vitamins" in her community.
Petros Nobumvo, 49, said that nothing would deter him from using Rath's vitamins.
"Look how handsome I look now," he said. "Forward with Dr Rath, forward," he exclaimed.