Concerns surface that people might avoid having jabs as result of comments by Mogoeng Mogoeng
Chief Justice Mogoeng said people should be spared any vaccine that sought to ‘advance a satanic agenda of the mark of the beast’. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters
South Africa’s chief justice has dismissed concerns that he may be endangering people’s health by linking coronavirus vaccines to a “Satanic agenda”.
The comment by Mogoeng Mogoeng marked the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic that a senior judge had aired such preoccupations. South Africa has registered more than 22,700 deaths from Covid-19, by far the highest number on the continent. Worries quickly surfaced, in a country where new medical interventions are often controversial, that people might avoid vaccination as a result of the comments.
After South Africa began hosting the continent’s first coronavirus vaccine trial, anti-vaccine activists protested against Africans being used as test subjects. Two decades ago, the then-president Thabo Mbeki questioned whether HIV caused Aids, which has ravaged the country.
Mogoeng, who frequently displays his Christian faith while performing his duties, prayed at a public event on Thursday that people should be spared any vaccine that sought to “advance a Satanic agenda of the mark of the beast”.
Addressing questions about this at a news conference on Friday to release a judiciary report, he 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 Daily news site quoted Barry Schoub, a virology professor at Wits University and 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.”
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.”
South Africa hopes to receive its first coronavirus vaccines from the Covax global distribution scheme in the second quarter of next year.
Originally published/posted by The Guardian (Fri 11 Dec 2020 10.33 EST)