WATCH: Anti-vax students arrested outside UFS following protest

At least eight public universities out of 26 have adopted vaccine mandates for students, employees and visitors.

A video of police officers arresting students outside the University of Free State during a protest against vaccination policy at the university has surfaced on social media.

In the video, officers could be seen picking and shoving students into a minubus, as the students held placards protesting the university’s vaccine policy.

The university is set to enforce its mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy following a recent court victory. The Bloemfontein High Court on Friday struck Free State for Choice’s (FS4C’s) interdict application against said policy off the roll, after finding that FS4C had failed to prove that the matter was urgent.

The university has welcomed the ruling, and confirmed that it will go ahead with the implementation of the vaccine policy on Monday.

“Although the university management respects the outcome and decision of the court, the UFS was never of the view that the implementation of the policy should be set aside.

ALSO READ: UCT adopts mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy ‘in principle’

“The university confirms the stipulations in the policy, that – as from 14 February 2022 – staff, students, and visitors will either be required to be vaccinated, to upload a negative Covid-19 PCR test (not older than a week) on its campus access system if they are not vaccinated, or to have an approved deferral or an approved exemption, in order to access campus.

“The university management remains of the view that the implementation of the policy is consistent with its prerogative and obligation to maintain a safe working and learning environment for its staff, students, and visitors,” UFS spokesperson Lacea Loader said in a statement.

Fear of deregistration because of vaccine policy

Last week some students at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) told The Citizen that they feared being deregistered before the end of March, due to the university’s vaccination policies. This follows a video doing the rounds on social media which showed a UJ security guard refusing entry to students who were not vaccinated.

According to a student who wished to remain anonymous for fear of being expelled, the option to test weekly for Covid might not last long for those who were not vaccinated and did not have medical or religious reasons for not getting the jab.

“Some of us do not have medical or religious reasons, but very personal reasons that do not allow us to make those decisions on our own. And that is not even considered by the university,” she said.

“My mom had the jab and then had some complications. How do I explain just thinking about it gives me anxiety. I worry that vaccinating could prove even more dangerous than ever and how do I communicate that with my parents or the university?”

At least eight public universities out of 26 have adopted vaccine mandates for students, employees and visitors, while some institutions have chosen a cautious approach by encouraging vaccination rather than imposing mandates.

Tshwane University of Technology spokesperson Phaphama Tshisikhawe said it had not yet finalised its policy on vaccination, but they would not be forcing anyone to get the jab and are currently encouraging students and staff to get it through vaccine drives.

Stellenbosch University is also encouraging everyone to get vaccinated as their medical advisory committee recommends it.

The University of Cape Town also encouraged unvaccinated staff and students to apply for an
exemption to the vaccine mandate on narrow medical grounds and on grounds of sincerely and intensely held beliefs grounded in religion and/or conscience.

“Applications will be adjudicated by independent panels and applicants whose applications are rejected will have a right of appeal,” UCT’s Nombuso Shabalala said.

  • Additional reporting by Reitumetse Makwea

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