Chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng dismisses concerns over vaccine prayer dispute
Mogoeng defends prayer opposing vaccines that ‘carry the mark of the beast’
Chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has dismissed concerns that he might be endangering people's health by linking Covid-19 vaccines to a “Satanic agenda”.
Mogoeng, who has drawn criticism for says about his Christian beliefs while performing his duties, prayed at a public event on Thursday that people should be spared any vaccine that sought to “advance the mark of the beast”.
It was the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic that a senior judge had aired such views.
SA has registered more than 22,700 deaths from Covid-19, the highest number on the continent. Worries quickly surfaced that people might avoid vaccination as a result of the claims.
After SA began hosting the continent's first coronavirus vaccine trial, some anti-vaccine activists protested against Africans being used as test subjects.
Addressing questions about this at a news conference on Friday to release a judiciary report, Mogoeng said: “If there is any vaccine that is deliberately intended to do harm to people, that vaccine must never see the light of day. I cry unto God to stop it.”
Mogoeng added: “I don't think the vaccine must ever be compulsory.... You can't impose a vaccine on people. Why should you?”
The Sunday Times news site quoted Wits University virology professor Barry Schoub, head of a ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, as saying: “It is unfortunate that someone of that stature is misleading people because vaccines are such a major part of controlling this epidemic and it is unfortunate that someone with such influence is opposing efforts to control it.”
The human rights organisation Africa4Palestine said the remarks “undermine medical science and SA’s position on the distribution of vaccines”.
But Mogoeng said he would not be silenced: “I don't care about the consequences. We’ve been quiet for far too long, toeing the line.”
SA hopes to receive its first coronavirus vaccines from the Covax global distribution scheme in the second quarter of 2021.
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