South African chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has denied accusations that his public prayer linking Covid-19 vaccines to the devil and the number 666 has endangered the lives of the people in Africa’s worst coronavirus-hit country.
Speaking before a crowd on Thursday, Mogoeng, who is known as an avid Christian, proclaimed: “Lord I judge it; I run it down in the name of Jesus. I lock out every demon of Covid-19. I lock out any vaccine that is not of you.”
“If there be any vaccine that is of the devil, meant to infuse triple-six 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,” he added.
When addressed on the issue during a press-conference on Friday, Mogoeng said that he was sticking to the statements he made in his controversial prayer.
“If there is any vaccine that is deliberately intended to do harm to people, that vaccine must never see the light of day. I cry unto God to stop it,” he insisted. “I don’t care about the consequences. We’ve been quiet for far too long, toeing the line.”
The top judge in South Africa’s Constitutional Court also spoke out against making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory in the country. “You can’t impose a vaccine on people. Why should you?” he said.
Mogoeng’s prayer has made headlines and prompted heated online discussions in South Africa where the public is traditionally skeptical of new medical interventions.
The country has so far registered over 22,700 deaths from Covid-19 – more than any other nations on the continent, but there are concerns that many South Africans will try to stay away from the vaccine, which is planned to be introduced in April as part of the COVAX global distribution scheme.
Human rights group, Africa 4 Palestine, said that the statements made by the judge “undermine medical science and South Africa’s position on the distribution of vaccines.”
Social media commenters blamed Mogoeng for “adding more confusion and frustration to an already stressed country” and advised him to stick to his judicial work.
But there were also those who defended the man, with one bizarrely saying he was condemning only those vaccines that “come with harm specifically for Africans,” but not all of the jabs aimed at stopping the pandemic.