Formal complaint lodged against chief justice for his 'devil vaccines' prayer

This follows utterances Mogoeng Mogoeng made regarding vaccines while delivering a public prayer at Tembisa Hospital in December

13 January 2021 - 18:31
By Belinda Pheto
Advocacy group African Alliance has lodged a complaint against chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng over his comments and prayers about the Covid-19 vaccine.
Image: Thulani Mbele Advocacy group African Alliance has lodged a complaint against chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng over his comments and prayers about the Covid-19 vaccine.

Health advocacy organisation African Alliance has filed a formal complaint with the Judicial Services Commission against chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

This follows utterances he made regarding vaccines while delivering a public prayer at Tembisa Hospital in December last year.

During the prayer, Mogoeng touched on issues raised in anti-vaxx circles.

Praying to God, he said: “I lock out any vaccine that is not of you. If there be any vaccine that is of the devil, meant to infuse 666 in the lives of people, meant to corrupt their DNA ... Any such vaccine, Lord God almighty, may it be destroyed by fire, in the name of Jesus.”

At the time, the spokesperson for the office of the chief justice, Nathi Mncube, confirmed that Mogoeng was speaking at the event at the hospital.

“He didn't make a statement. He was praying. It wasn't a speech. He was praying after he had given his speech. It's a prayer to God,” Mncube said.

During a press briefing the following day on the 2019/2020 judiciary annual report, Mogoeng defended his remarks.

“f 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 said, adding that taking the vaccine should not be made compulsory.

On Wednesday, African Alliance released a 16-page affidavit as part of its complaint. It argues that 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.

The alliance called on the Judicial Conduct Committee to urgently review and deal with the complaint to protect the public investments made in a Covid-19 vaccine. In their affidavit, the organisation argues that Mogoeng’s statements were dangerous because they 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, who is the head at African Alliance. He submitted the complaint on behalf of the organisation.

The organisation said Mogoeng should be aware that national regulators such as the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) exist to ensure that products like vaccines are safe, effective and of high quality.

“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,” Johnson said.

The African Alliance said it is also concerned that Mogoeng is just one of several prominent, public leaders and political figures that have peddled misinformation during the Covid-19 outbreak. The organisation referred to eThekwini ANC ward councillor Sfiso Mngadi, who reportedly admitted to circulating dangerous vaccine conspiracy theories in KwaZulu-Natal via a voice note.

“What public officials say matters. When what they say puts lives at risk and spreads dangerous lies about vaccines, we will hold them to account. We expect government and political parties to do the same,” Johnson said.

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