Correction: ‘Spreading lies about vaccines disrespectful to health workers’
The Peoples Health Movement of South Africa and the Health Justice Initiative were incorrectly identified as the organisers of this weekend's anti-vaxx protest at Groote Schuur Hospital.
A demonstrator, claiming to work at Groote Schuur, holds up a placard during a protest against Covid-19 vaccinations in front of Groote Schuur Hospital, one of the biggest public hospitals, in Cape Town on August 21, 2021. (Photo by RODGER BOSCH / AFP)
On Saturday 22 August, The Citizen published a report on an anti-vaccination march which took place at Groote Schuur Hospital.
In the coverage of the march, The Citizen mistakenly attributed the organisation of the march to the Peoples Health Movement of South Africa (PHM-SA) and the Health Justice Initiative (HJI). We failed to check the veracity of this claim and now realise that the attribution to PHM and HJI was entirely incorrect. We apologise for the error on our part and will address the systems we have in place that allowed that error to slip through.
Far from being opposed to COVID-19 vaccination, The Peoples Health Movement of South Africa and the Health Justice Initiative are deeply supportive of vaccination and involved in promoting the vaccine rollout. We realise now that the organisations would never have organised the march. In fact, the organisations jointly released a press statement on the 21st August condemning the planned protest and expressing solidarity with the health workers at Groote Schuur.
Any damage to the respective organisation’s reputations is regretted and we retract completely the implication that the organisations were in any way supportive or had organised the march.
Both organisations have been vocal in not only their opposition to the march, but also in their support for healthcare workers.
In their statement released ahead of the march, the organisations described the protest as “misplaced and disrespectful” and clarified some of the untruths spread by the organisers.
They said the march was “disrespectful because health workers risk their lives to save ours, and the least we can do is to ensure they are not harassed and antagonized at work.”
They also clarified that “Vaccines are safe, effective and free for everyone in South Africa,” but that does not mean SA has a mandatory vaccine policy as claimed by some of the protestors.
“Scaring people with untruths and false claims does harm to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. It destroys the morale of health workers who bear the brunt of the pain, exhaustion and despair they encounter when trying to prevent COVID-19 deaths,” the statement reads.