Cape Town - A crowd of anti-vaxxers gathered outside Groote Schuur Hospital to protest mandatory vaccinations in the country on Saturday.
The group of about 100 people who initially tried gathering on the grounds of the hospital, were asked to move to the perimeter, and were escorted by SAPS and law enforcement officers.
The people chanted: “Why are you lying Cyril,” and “We need jobs, not jabs!” in response to a flyer that circulated this week, announcing the "Freedom of choice; no to mandatory vaccination rally".
The protest was not led by any organisation, and instead by various anti-vaccine groups that chose to unite through their shared belief.
Local fashion brand Mevrou & Co founder Catherine Raphaely was one of the protesters, and said she’s passionate about it because she believes that human rights are being challenged and overrun.
“I’m aware of the fact that no Coronavirus vaccine can ever work. Vaccines won’t achieve a high efficacy rate,” she said.
She added: “I’m not a Covid-19 denier. I am just against this vaccine. To qualify as a vaccine, you shouldn’t be infectious,” she said.
A man, who chose not to be named, stood alone in the middle of the road and faced down the protesters with a sign which read: “Covidiots”.
The man, employed by the hospital, said the pandemic had been happening for 18 months, and that the ignorance of the crowd was disgraceful.
“I’ve seen many people die, I’ve intubated many people, and I’ve taken them to ICU. These people don’t have the faintest idea what’s happening behind there,” he said while pointing at the hospital.
Throughout the protest, various individuals grabbed the mic and voiced why they were in attendance.
A Plumstead drama teacher, Noleen Glasgow said she wanted Chief Justice Moegeng Moegeng to fight for the rights of citizens who did not want to be vaccinated.
“We want to stop it before it gets to the stage where vaccines become mandatory. We want to enlighten people on the dangers of the vaccine,” she said.
She added: “My motivation for being here is that all of this is psychologically damaging to my child. Now that the teachers are vaccinated, the children are getting sick. Masks are mandatory right now, what’s to say that vaccines aren’t next?”
Cars driving down Observatory Main Road hooted to show their support.
Director of communications for the Western Cape Department of Health, Marika Champion, said vaccination remained voluntary.
“The provincial government has not changed its stance on this. Vaccines are safe and highly effective in preventing severe Covid-19 illness,” she said.
She added: “Doctors are already noting the positive impact that vaccines are having. We encourage residents to get their information from trusted, reliable sources – if they are unsure, please speak to their local clinic or hospital to get more information about the vaccine.”