'Police will be there at every point watching over the marchers': SAPS ready for EFF's vaccine march
The SA Police Service will on Friday deploy officers to the EFF's march to the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) headquarters for vaccines.
The EFF is set to picket outside the Sahpra offices to demand approval of the Russian and Chinese Covid-19 vaccines.
The party’s leader Julius Malema made the announcement last week after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked Johnson & Johnson to discard doses of its Covid-19 vaccine meant for SA.
Speaking on 702, police spokesperson Col Brenda Muridili said police were ready for the marchers and whatever takes place.
“Police will be there at every point watching over the marchers,” said Muridili.
“At any given time when they see that regulations are not being adhered to, then the police will be able to talk to the conveners to get the people to adhere.”
Muridili said the march was legal, but should the marchers not adhere to police instructions about adhering to the regulations, they will face a criminal offence and either be arrested or fined.
“Anyone who feels they need to exercise their right to protest, they are most welcome to do so. Current regulations say that gatherings, which this march will be, have to be 100 people [or less] and those 100 people must adhere to the protocols put in place,” she said.
According to the disaster management gazette, an enforcement officer must, where a gathering in contravention of the regulations takes place, order the people at the gathering to disperse immediately.
Should they refuse to disperse, the officer “must take appropriate action, which may, subject to the Criminal Procedure Act, include the arrest and detention of any person at the gathering”.
Speaking at the EFF’s Youth Day rally last week, Malema said the picket was personal.
“Friday, we are at Sahpra. We want the Sputnik V and Sinovac vaccines. Failure to do so and we are going to sleep outside the home of the CEO of Sahpra.
“It is personal like that. There will be a sleep-in at the CEO’s house until the vaccines are provided by this government,” said Malema.
The march has been endorsed by many, including rapper Cassper Nyovest, veteran musician-turned-EFF MP Ringo Madlingozi and DJ Euphonik.
On social media, the Tito Mboweni hitmaker said his stance was not a political one.
“I don’t have to be a member of any political party to agree that people are dying and we need to save lives and livelihoods,” said Cassper.
“We have lost lives and jobs. The country needs to be vaccinated and I support this call. We want our country back and safe.”
TimesLIVE ran a poll recently asking if citizens supported the EFF march.
72.54% of voters said they did not approve of the protest, while 21.13% said it was needed.
6.33% of voters said they were not sure about the vaccines the EFF is advocating for.