Anti-vaxxers take to the streets over 'medical apartheid'
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“No vaccines, shove the poison!” chanted a crowd of about 200 people outside Meadowdale Mall in Edenvale, east of Johannesburg, on Saturday, as they marched against “medical apartheid” imposed, they said, by government.
The protest formed part of the so-called "World Wide Rally for Freedom", a series of events staged internationally to fight against Covid-19 related restrictions and vaccinations. According to its local organisers, the protest was a call for freedom of speech, choice, assembly and health.
Protesters, including young children, proceeded along Van Riebeek Avenue, holding up posters proclaiming, among other things, "No vaccine will enter my body". Several passing motorists hooted in an apparent show of solidarity.
Those taking part said they were tired of being oppressed by the state and should not be forced to take the vaccine.
“We are united together as the people in our diversity and we are saying enough is enough. This lockdown has been completely illegal. There are alternative treatments (for Covid-19) but they sold us fear instead of telling us about sunshine and natural immunity,” said Daryl Hardy, a member of Hope 4 Humanity, the group that organised the event.
According to Hardy, the purpose of the four-kilometre protest march was to inform the public of what he called "the tyranny and the fear" instilled by government to force people to vaccinate.
“We want to reveal the truth (about the vaccines). There have been illegal experiments in Tembisa where they have injected children and now these children have adverse effects and their parents were not consulted. It’s completely illegal to inject people with stuff that they don’t know what it contains. This vaccine was not properly tested,” Hardy said.
Among the crowd was 36-year-old Nothando Gumede, who wore a white shirt with “My body, my choice” and a syringe depicted across the front. Gumede said she did not associate with the term “anti-vaxxer”, saying it was created to force people to vaccinate from fear of being excluded from society.
”What I am is someone who stands for freedom of choice, so I must have a choice to either have [the vaccine] or not have it. But you then can’t go into a space where you start forcing, or you start infringing on my freedom. My freedom is not granted by government, I have rights as a person. I have a right to decline something,” she said.
Another protester, 40-year-old Kerry Parsons, holding up a poster stating "Corrupt fat cats love obedient sheep”, said the government would not admit the on-going vaccination programme was nothing but an experimental trial, and that they were financially benefiting from it.
“[Clause] 5.5.5 of Pfizer’s contract with the South African government says this is an experimental vaccine and it has not undergone long-term trials. Therefore, this means that whoever is taking the vaccines is agreeing to be part of an experiment and the manufacturer is not liable for the side-effects or death caused by it. I’m not anti-vaccine, but anti-experimental vaccine being forced on me and my children; that is just wrong. How can you put a drug that is not tested in a child?”
While marching peacefully, the protesters neither wore masks nor observed any other Covid-19 protocols. Gumede said she only wore a mask in public places such as supermarkets because it was mandatory and she could not enter without one.
Raam Naicker, one of the organisers, said he saw no need to wear a mask despite believing that the virus did indeed exist.
He said he’d had Covid-19, but he was asymptomatic and therefore could not transmit the virus.
“I have had it (Covid-19) and I recovered. I don’t think it is as bad as they say it is; it is just like a common flu. Also, you can’t say that people who are healthy must mask up, it’s madness.”
The protest in Edenvale was one of five that took place around the country on Saturday. There were two in Gauteng, as well as protests in George, Durban and Cape Town.