Government considering mandatory vaccination
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DURBAN - THE government is considering whether to make vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory for all South Africans.
This comes as the country forges ahead with vaccination for all citizens.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Tyrone Seale told the Daily News on Wednesday that mandatory vaccination was under consideration for implementation by the government.
This came as Durban High Court Judge Mahendra Chetty issued a directive that only people who had been vaccinated against Covid-19 or who could provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test result would be allowed to attend the court case involving KwaZulu-Natal ANC deputy chairperson and former MEC, Mike Mabuyakhulu.
Mabuyakhulu and 15 others appeared on Monday on charges of fraud and money laundering over money paid by the KwaZulu-Natal government relating to the North Sea Jazz Festival.
The directive applied to lawyers, the media, court staff, and those on trial.
The office of the Chief Justice on Wednesday had defended Chetty’s decision, saying the directive was not lawful, but was applied to control the number of Mabuyakhulu’s supporters attending the case as there was not enough space to accommodate everyone.
South African Judiciary spokesperson Nathi Mncube said it was a directive issued for the Mabuyakhulu case only.
“The Durban High court could not find a courtroom big enough to accommodate the whole contingent of the accused and their legal representatives. Of course, the directive is not law, it is applicable to this one particular case,” Mncube said.
Asked whether this would not set a precedent for other judges to follow suit, Mncube said: “It is unlikely that all judges will follow this directive, but those who are aggrieved should write to KZN Judge President Achmat Jappie to raise concerns about the directive and its impact. I don’t think anyone was really stopped from accessing the court as a result of the directive.”
South African Medical Association chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee weighed in and said using vaccination passports remained a concern.
“The variants are not yet well understood and we are not sure whether those who are vaccinated can spread the Covid-19 virus. We must not criminalise or penalise those with objections to vaccination. Those who work with people also don’t have a right to spread the virus. We need to think ethically about this issue as those without vaccine passports will not travel overseas,” she said.
Hope4Health spokesperson Gill Harper said that mandatory vaccinations were unconstitutional and that South Africa would not enforce such regulations.
“However, the right of admission does allow businesses and organisations to restrict access to individuals or patrons who do not comply with their requirements. These are all permitted and well-enforced and accepted by the public. If you opt not to comply, then you can be denied access, or certain restrictions will be enforced.
“In terms of the choice to vaccinate, we support the government and the World Health Organization both locally and internationally in our quest to drive vaccinations as a tool to curb the devastating impact of Covid-19.”