An official complaint against Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has been escalated. Health advocacy group The African Alliance approached the Judicial Service Commission after he sparked outrage with bizarre comments he made about COVID-19 vaccines.
The commission has now referred the matter to the Judicial Conduct Committee. While leading a prayer at the Tembisa Hospital last year, the Chief Justice asked God to destroy any COVID-19 vaccine that carried the mark of the devil.
The African Alliance has described the remarks as ‘false and dangerous’. The jurist, however, has defended his comments. South Africa hopes to receive its first batch of a vaccine from the end of this month.
The African Alliance argues that Justice Mogoeng has acted in a manner which is incompatible with, and unbecoming of, the holding of the judicial office and that he breached the code of judicial conduct, despite him saying ’’I’m not a scientist, I’m a prayer warrior’’ in defence of his vaccines ’’of the devil’’ stance.
WATCH: Dangerous comments from the Chief Justice?
With most of the world needing to take a COVID vaccine soon to stay safe, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has called for the “rejection” of vaccines that may “be of the devil” or used “to corrupt DNA”. @etvNewsSA pic.twitter.com/90P2vXfpb3
— Nic Andersen (@NicAndersen) December 10, 2020
The African Alliance said in a 16-page affidavit while Justice Mogoeng has repeatedly defended his comments, the ideas implied that the vaccine could be dangerous without providing any evidence to back up the claim.
It called on the Judicial Conduct Committee to urgently review and deal with the complaint, arguing that his statements lessened the public trust in vaccines. “Let’s be clear: vaccines are not made by the devil and do not change your DNA,” said Tian Johnson, head of the African Alliance.
“South Africa is at a crossroads where the roll-out of the Covid vaccine is coming up very shortly and we need to do everything that we can to support communities’ understanding of the safety of vaccines. So, utterances such as the Chief Justice Mogoeng’s takes the work we’ve been doing back.’’
The African Alliance said Justice Mogoeng should be aware that national regulators such as the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority exist to ensure that products like vaccines are safe, effective and of high quality. “As a legal scholar himself, he of all people should know that there are legal bodies that are set up to ensure absolute vaccine safety.”
During a press briefing the following day on the 2019/2020 judiciary annual report, Justice Mogoeng said in defending his remarks: “If there is a vaccine with 666, I want God to destroy it. If there is any vaccine meant to destroy the DNA of the people, I’m asking God to interrupt it. Any clean vaccine, they must produce it quickly.”
He added that taking the vaccine should not be made compulsory. Johnson said: “When SA 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.’’
The African Alliance said it would continue to use the legal framework to hold those in power to account for the false and harmful remarks they make about life-saving vaccines