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The government and the private sector look like they are going to hit a roadblock – in the form of our constitution’s guarantees of basic human rights – as they debate, or actually implement, vaccine mandates and vaccine passports.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has said no-one will be forced to take the vaccine, which has been seized upon by the hesitant and the more rabid anti-vaxx clique as confirmation that their constitutional rights are paramount.
Those rights include those of bodily integrity and that they will not be used in medical experimentation.
Those driving the anti-vaccine narrative have jumped on these two stipulations, arguing that by forcing them to have a jab, their bodily integrity is being violated – and that the vaccines are tantamount to illegal medical experimentation.
The latter claim is nonsense and hundreds of scientists, following the science, have proved this over and over again.
The former is undoubtedly true. However, none of those paying attention to the alleged violation of their human rights has properly looked at the constitution.
Regarded as one of the most progressive in the world, it nevertheless places the well-being of the community above that of the individual, a principle enshrined in common law for thousands of years.
Section 36 of the constitution provides that the rights in the Bill of Rights may be limited “only in terms of law of general application to the extent that the limitation is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom, taking into account all relevant factors…”
And there is the rub. Scientific evidence is that higher rates of vaccination help reduce infection rates, as well as the pressure on hospitals and their ICUs.
So, there is a greater good here. The health of society must trump any individual freedom or human right.
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