SAHRC: Those arguing against vaccine mandates have no legal leg to stand on

The discovery of the Omicron variant has put the spotlight firmly on those who are still not jabbed almost a year after South Africa received its first bulk of COVID-19 vaccines.

A vaccinator preparing the COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Monday said citizens who were still arguing about the constitutionality of vaccine mandates and an infringement of their rights had no legal leg to stand on while labour experts were also concerned about how the directives would be enforced.

The discovery of the Omicron variant has put the spotlight firmly on those who are still not jabbed almost a year after South Africa received its first bulk of COVID-19 vaccines.

Government has set up a task team to explore how best to ramp up vaccinations.

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Businesses, universities, festival organisers and others are now imposing new rules that will see those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 being excluded from their premises or events.

Science has proven that vaccines are the best way to stop the virus from mutating, forming new variants.

But not everyone agrees that mandatory vaccines are the route to take and SAHRC chair Bongani Majola is warning the private sector that they can’t make up their own rules.

“Government is a government of everybody, private institutions can’t say they can’t be bound by a law of general application, which is passed by Parliament.”

Labour specialist Andrew Levy said he was more concerned about how government would be able to police companies to make sure they abide by any potential mandatory legislation.

“Will it be done by labour inspectors? They probably aren’t enough to go around. Will wait for complaints from employees? Probably not.”

It’s expected that by next week South Africans will have a clearer idea on what direction the task team has decided to take on the urgent matter.

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