Press Releases

Vaccine activists lay complaint against South Africa’s Chief Justice over vaccine misinformation

 

January 2021

Health advocacy organisation the African Alliance has filed a complaint with the Judicial Services Commission against Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng following the Chief Justice’s false and dangerous vaccine claims.

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In December, Mogoeng led a crowd at Tembisa Hospital in prayer, saying: “If there be any [COVID-19] vaccine that is the work of the devil meant to infuse 666 in the lives of the people, meant to corrupt their DNA… may it be destroyed by fire.”

 

Mogoeng’s comments, which he has repeatedly defended, imply that vaccines can be dangerous with no factual basis. By doing this, his statements as a highly visible civil servant undermine the public’s confidence in life-saving and scientifically-tested vaccines.

 

“Let’s be clear: Vaccines are not made by the devil and do not change your DNA,” says African Alliance head Tian Johnson, who submitted the complaint on behalf of the organisation. “The real danger is that statements such as Mogoeng’s decrease the public trust in vaccines, and that hurts all of us.”

 

The Chief Justice should be aware that national regulators such as South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) exist to ensure that products like vaccines are safe, effective, and of high quality. It is highly likely that the Chief Justice himself is alive and healthy today – and free to make such baseless conspiracy theories – as a direct of result of him being vaccinated as a child in Koffiekraal Village, in the North West Province.

 

“Today, hundreds of people will die from COVID-19,” Johnson continues. “When South Africa gets access to a COVID-19 vaccine, we need as many people as we can to take those vaccines.”

 

 

“The more people we can vaccinate against COVID-19, the less chance we all have of becoming infected with the virus. Misinformation about vaccines only puts that goal farther out of reach.”

 

In making unfounded claims about vaccines, the African Alliance believes Mogoeng acted in a manner incompatible with or unbecoming of a holder of a judicial office and violated the Code of Judicial Conduct in relation to the Judicial Services Commission Act.

 

We now call on the Judicial Conduct Committee to urgently review and deal with the complaint to protect the public investments made in a COVID-19 vaccine.

 

The African Alliance is also concerned that Mogoeng is just one of several prominent, public leaders and political figures that have peddled misinformation during the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Most recently, eThekwini ANC ward councilor Sfiso Mngadi reportedly admitted to circulating dangerous vaccine conspiracy theories in KwaZulu-Natal via a voice note.

 

“What public officials say matters. When what they say puts lives at risk and spreads dangerous lies about vaccines, we will hold them to account,” Johnson says. “We expect government and political parties to do the same.”

 

African Alliance’s complaint against Chief Justice Mogoeng can be read in full here.

 

More links:

 

Eye Witness News

13 January 2021

https://ewn.co.za/2021/01/13/health-group-lodges-complaint-over-mogoeng-s-covid-19-vaccine-utterances

 

The Citizen

13 January 2021

https://citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/general/2419422/jsc-refers-mogoeng-devil-vaccine-remarks-to-judicial-conduct-committee/

 

Jacaranda News

13 January 2021

https://www.jacarandafm.com/news/news/african-alliance-demand-chief-justice-mogoeng-held-accountable-666-vaccine-prayer/

 

Times Live

13 January 2021

https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2021-01-13-formal-complaint-lodged-against-chief-justice-for-his-devil-vaccines-prayer/

 

Sowetan Live

13 January 2021

https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/south-africa/2021-01-13-formal-complaint-lodged-against-chief-justice-for-his-devil-vaccines-prayer/fbclid%3DIwAR201pif32dzGHgvhLyUkzBnhTWe5cZryeBO932Tmc6_ZM4c9MaTmbbrFQU/

 

News 24

14 January 2021

https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/jsc-refers-mogoeng-devil-vaccine-prayer-remarks-to-judicial-conduct-committee-20210113

 

Independent Online

14 January 2021

https://www.iol.co.za/pretoria-news/news/covid-19-charges-against-chief-justice-mogoeng-mogoeng-over-devil-666-anti-vaccine-stance-c3fa8c22-bb44-4887-9a03-350492a91044

 

Liberty Fighters

18 January 2021

https://www.libertyfighters.co.za/news/lfn-to-jsc-drop-dysfunctional-mogoeng-complaint-or-well-go-to-court/

 

Times Live

18 January 2021

https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times-daily/opinion-and-analysis/2021-01-18-ebrahim-harvey–why-chief-justice-mogoeng-was-out-of-line-on-covid-19-vaccine/#Echobox=1611027865

 

Independent Online

20 January 2021

https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gender-of-justice-mogoengs-covid-19-vaccine-complainant-queried-cf9d6d9c-6a54-4d19-93ab-e92afbf8a9e5

 

For interviews, please contact:

Tian Johnson

African Alliance

+27 73 432 4069

tian@africanalliance.org.za

SA’s latest COVID-19 vaccine trial, ENSEMBLE, crucial for future access

 

November 2020

South Africa’s newest COVID-19 vaccine trial is another crucial step in ensuring a future vaccine works for South Africans and should be commended, says advocacy group the African Alliance and partner, the Vaccine Advocacy Resource Group.

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“Historically, Africa has had to wait too long to get medicines and vaccines that the Global North long took for granted for many reasons — including a lack of local data from Africa,” says Tian Johnson. Johnson is head of NGO, the African Alliance and founding member of the Vaccine Advocacy Resource Group that works to ensure that civil society and communities are meaningfully involved in vaccine research and development and access.

 

“Today, South African scientists’ leading role in COVID-19 vaccine research takes us a step closer in ensuring that history doesn’t repeat itself this pandemic.”

 

The country’s latest and third vaccine trial, launched today, will test whether an experimental vaccine can protect people from contracting the new coronavirus or developing serious COVID-19 symptoms.

 

South Africa is now one of nine countries, including the United States, Argentina and Mexico, which will test the vaccine. The South African trial follows earlier studies in the US and Belgium that showed the jab was safe to use.

 

Importantly, the study — called the Ensemble trial — will include people most at risk of severe COVID-19 disease: Those over the age of 60 and people with underlying health conditions such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.

 

The African Alliance commends researchers for taking this step.

 

“The Ensemble study’s decision to include those in our society most vulnerable to COVID-19 is a brave but necessary move, and one to be supported if we believe in making sure that those most vulnerable to the disease are included in the search for its solutions,” Johnson says.

 

But science cannot go it alone. The African Alliance and the VARG welcome South African researchers’ decision to ensure that each Ensemble clinical trial site has established community bodies to help oversee and guide the trial. This work builds on decades of successful partnerships between communities and HIV researchers in South Africa.

 

We look forward to working with researchers and communities to ensure that these strong and meaningful partnerships continue not only during COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials but also long after they stop.

 

“The world desperately needs effective vaccines and medicines to treat COVID-19, and the quest to develop these has pushed science to find new and faster ways of finding them,” Johnson says. “But in the rush to find effective solutions to COVID-19, we cannot afford to leave communities behind, and their involvement cannot be an afterthought for researchers.”

 

“As this landmark COVID-19 trial is launched, civil society now more than ever needs to be aware, strategic and unrelenting in how we hold our governments, researchers, regulators and the funders of research to account.”

 

For interviews, contact:

Tian Johnson, Founder & Strategist, The African Alliance

Cell: +27734324069

Email: tian@africanalliance.org.za

Maaza Seyoum, Partnerships & Communications Lead, The African Alliance, Email: maaza@africanalliance.org.za

 

Governments and international partners must unite around a global guarantee which ensures that, when a safe and effective vaccine is developed, it is produced rapidly at scale and made available for all people, in all countries, free of charge. The same applies to all treatments, diagnostics, and other technologies for COVID-19.

 

We support the call for a Peoples Vaccine!