Durban - President of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Dr Glenda Gray has said that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng should keep his religious beliefs to himself when representing the State.
“We live in a secular society and have a secular government; State and church are separate. You need to keep your religious opinions to yourself when representing the state. Also, you should not get yourself embroiled in conspiracy theories,” Gray commented to African News Agency (ANA) over the weekend.
Gray's remarks came after Mogoeng led a controversial prayer at a thanksgiving service last week in Tembisa, Gauteng, in which he said the Covid-19 vaccine could “infuse triple six in the lives of people”.
“If there be any vaccine, that is of the Devil meant to infuse triple six in the lives of people, meant to corrupt their DNA. Any such vaccine, Lord God almighty may it be destroyed by fire,” Mogoeng said.
Mogoeng's prayer followed the Solidarity Fund’s announcement of the payment of R327 million as part of the first step in securing the country’s position in the COVAX programme.
The figure represents 15% of the total cost of securing access to vaccines for 10% of the population – around six million people.
Mogoeng defended himself at a press conference following the prayer, after he was asked where he got the idea about “triple six” being infused in a vaccine, saying it was his constitutional right to pray.
Despite subjecting the Covid-19 vaccine to eternal damnation, Mogoeng said during the same press conference that he “does not know anything about vaccines” and that his prayer was derived from an advert which suggested a global organisation is “considering” making vaccine certificates compulsory for travel.
Mogoeng also said he was not against all vaccines, but only ones that brought harm to people.
The SAMRC president deflated Mogoeng’s remarks, saying that vaccines have been the cornerstone of public health.
“We should not allow unscientific personal beliefs to undermine the public health response. Vaccines have been the cornerstone of public health. Without vaccines, measles, polio and smallpox would not have been eradicated,” Gray said.
“Without vaccines our children would get measles, pneumococcal pneumonia and haemophilus meningitis. Would we stop our children getting vaccines to prevent this?”
Human rights organisation Africa For Palestine has filed a complaint against Mogoeng with the Judicial Service Committee following the incident.
Director of the Africa for Palestine movement, Muhammed Desai, said that they fully support freedom of speech; however, as chief justice of South Africa, Mogeng has a code of conduct to abide by.
African News Agency (ANA)