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Malema brushes aside super-spreader fears at EFF 'march to save lives'

EFF supporters in Pretoria on Friday June 25 2021.
EFF supporters in Pretoria on Friday June 25 2021.
Image: Ziphozonke Lushaba

Hundreds of EFF supporters and red berets leader Julius Malema descended on Pretoria in apparent violation of lockdown regulations on gatherings and safety protocols to “march to save lives” and demand approval of the Chinese and Russian Covid-19 vaccines for use in SA.

They gathered outside the offices of the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) the body tasked with regulating health products in SA. Some wore face masks, some masks dangled on chins and others did not wear masks.

SAPS spokesperson Col Brenda Muridili said the police would draft a report after the march to determine what charges would be instituted against the convener as the number of people gathered breached lockdown restrictions.

While some wore face masks, others did not.
While some wore face masks, others did not.
Image: Ziphozonke Lushaba

Party leader Julius Malema demanded that Sahpra respond to their appeal for vaccinations within seven days or face a sit-in at the home of its CEO.

“We want more vaccines available. They are telling us that this event is a super-spreader but it is not true ... because we are meeting here outdoors for few minutes, from there we are going home and we comply with Covid regulations.

“Schools are on as we speak. Our schools have more kids than this march.”

EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo said they had declared war and would make sure they got the vaccines.

“Fools will ask us why we are coming out when there are high infections. The infections are affecting us from home, we are standing up. This is a war and we have declared it as one and we are acting as people who are in the war.

“We are dying in numbers, we are tired of seeing our loved ones die like flies,” he said.

Party leader Julius Malema denied the gathering was a potential superspreader event.
Party leader Julius Malema denied the gathering was a potential superspreader event.
Image: Ziphozonke Lushaba

Pambo said the government had been given enough time to respond to the pandemic.

“Lockdowns were there, they were put in place so that we can give the government an opportunity to make sure that our healthcare system is in order. We gave the government the chance to make sure that there are enough beds, we gave the government a chance to go procure oxygen tanks.

“We cannot go on with lockdowns, we have to respond with vaccines. There were no vaccines when we went to the first lockdown, there are vaccines now. Why do you want to shut us down, why do you want to imprison us in our homes. We will not be committed to the grave early by this government,” he said.

Rapper Riky Rick was also present at the march to pledge solidarity, saying many artists had been badly affected by Covid-19.

“We are here to bring support to the vaccine issue. We have been waiting for long to open up the economy. We are asking for vaccines,” he said.

This is a developing story.