Cheadle-stan: A brave new shameful world?

STUDENT bodies have resoundingly rejected calls for ‘mandatory vaccination’ on our nation’s campuses. Coercion defeats the purpose of constitutional guarantees, including bodily integrity and freedom of movement, not to mention academic freedom. The students say immunisation programmes should be voluntary and recognise individual rights at the same time the needs of the majority are taken into account.

This hasn’t stopped several motions for vaccine mandates and/or vaccine passports from being proposed by UCT Senate and other universities. And it hasn’t stopped far-right legal professionals from arguing essentially for the scrapping of article 12 alongside the introduction of internal passports which recall South Africa’s introduction of the so-called ‘dompas’.

If these proposals are anything to go by, we could end up adopting a version of the ‘China Model’ of social control, in which vaccine points scores determine both social status and access to resources in society, and all this without so much as a debate on campus nor even a democratic process within the hallowed halls of the National Assembly? A system which lends itself to all sorts of abuse. Post something the authorities don’t like, and beep, you’re just an anti-vaxer, denied access to public transport.

Right-wing juristocrat Professor Pierre de Vos thus penned yet another article published by Daily Maverick, this week in which he purports to present case precedent and various authorities in support of the limitation of one of the foundations of our constitutional dispensation.

According to article 36 of the constitution, rights may only be limited by a ‘law of general application’, — the rights under article 12 were considered important enough by our nation’s founders, for them to be listed as non-derogable during a state of emergency. In other words, one may infer that the mere declaration of an emergency or disaster is not sufficient to consider their limitation, and that one cannot argue, as many SABC talking heads have over the past week, on the basis of the mere roll-out of so-called ‘mask-mandates’.

De Vos argues: “While a policy requiring all (non-exempted) staff and students to be vaccinated will not directly coerce anyone to get vaccinated, it will present individuals who are not keen to be vaccinated with a difficult choice and would therefore interfere with their right freely to make decisions about their own bodies. “

After appearing to walk back some of his astonishing statements made in his earlier piece (see here), he then proceeds to rehash work written on the subject of bioethics, referring to an 2016 article by A Nienaber and K N Bailey, in the South African Journal of Bioethics and Law:”The right to physical integrity and informed refusal: Just how far does a patient’s right to refuse medical treatment go?”

In this manner De Vos introduces yet another series of citations, ostensibly to argue the point that article 12 may be limited by any arbitrary law when it comes to immunisation.

It is the height of scholastic chicanery and downright dishonest to assume that De Vos is actually introducing a cogent and rational argument in the public arena, since none of the cases cited apply to healthy individuals per se and do not limit our right to informed consent. It is one thing to quarantine a highly infectious individual or group of persons, but quite another to treat the entire body politic as infectious.

The cases cited by De Vos apply inter alia, to persons accused of a crime; to blood transfusion with respect to a minor; a case of highly contagious XDR-TB, and termination of pregnancy beyond a certain date.

Again, it is a long stretch of the imagination to treat unvaccinated persons as if they are accused of a crime. In effect to create a novel category of ‘pre-crime’ so elegantly demonstrated in the 2002 scifi thriller Minority Report.

If anything the question of the harm caused by the unvaccinated has not been addressed: Where is the harm done by an unvaccinated individual to others, given that vaccination does not necessarily stop transmission when it comes to coronoviruses, and we are not dealing with the measles? The pandemic will in any event, and most likely draw to an end in 2022, as most pandemics do, lasting two years or more.

Are the risks to public health as bad as they have been made out to be? Where is the proportionality, given that the measures appear excessive and open one to any number of other vaccination programmes, not to mention annual updates? What, so you didn’t get the latest booster shot, no graduation for you sir! And where is the science backing up any of De Vos’ bold assertions when it comes to mortality, mutation and infection moving forward?

I have already lodged my objection to the manner in which De Vos had earlier cited criminal law in order to make a case effecting the rights of those who have not been found guilty of any crime.

But how dare he seek to terminate ownership and control over the body for free-thinking individuals in South Africa in the public arena? How dare he do it in this fashion, by abusing his own office whilst denying the same rights, the right of reply to interested and affected parties?

De Vos and his corrupt crony Cheadle, really need to step down from their pedestals at UCT. Vaccines may save lives, but removing consent destroys our democracy. And the only real questions in my mind are these ones: does South Africa have the courage to learn from its past mistakes, in particular the dompas?

Should we be changing the democratic character of our nation so hastily, and given that most epidemics run their course after two years?

Judging by the manner in which our country’s legal scholars so readily resort to the strange determinations made by other nation’s, I can only suggest that our human rights revolution is anything but secure.

I therefore present to you two pieces below published in the public arena that may have escaped your attention, and direct readers to my earlier pieces published on the subject. See here and here, and here and here and here.

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