Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has stood firm after widespread criticism of his public prayer at a Gauteng government event held at the Tembisa Hospital in Ekurhuleni on Thursday, where he prayed for any “devilish” Covid-19 vaccine to be destroyed by fire.
Mogoeng said during the prayer: “I lock out every demon of Covid-19, I lock out any vaccine that is not of You [God]. If there be any vaccine that is of the devil, meant to infuse 666 in the lives of people, meant to corrupt their DNA … any such vaccine, may it be destroyed by fire.”
Christians believe 666 to be the mark of the devil.
A video of Mogoeng’s prayer was widely shared on social media, leading to heated debates about whether his religion was interfering with his duty as the country’s Chief Justice. Some claimed Mogoeng was “causing confusion among people who are already hesitant about a vaccine”, while others said his prayer had been misinterpreted.
It’s not the first time Mogoeng’s faith has caused public ire.
In August, he criticised South Africa’s foreign policy on the Israel-Palestine issue by using Bible verses to defend Israel and express love for it during a Jerusalem Post webinar. He is already facing a possible charge and the matter is being adjudicated by Judge Phineas Mojapelo, the Deputy Judge President of the Johannesburg High Court, who was appointed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, following a complaint that human rights organisation #Africa4Palestine lodged with the Judicial Services Commissions (JSC).
#Africa4Palestine has threatened to lay additional charges against Mogoeng for his recent comments with the JSC.
“We are consulting with our legal team to see if additional charges can be added to our current complaint against Chief Justice Mogoeng. Failing which we will launch a new complaint with the JSC against Mogoeng’s latest vaccine remarks.
“We believe that the Chief Justice’s latest comments undermine medical science and South Africa’s position on the distribution of vaccines. Moreover, we are of the opinion that these latest remarks on vaccines are similar to Mogoeng’s pro-Israel comments – both are examples of the Chief Justice entering controversial issues which clearly violate the JSC’s code of conduct,” it said.
But speaking at the annual judiciary report media briefing on Friday morning, Mogoeng emphasised his Christian beliefs and said he would not stop praying to God to act against vaccines that could potentially affect people’s lives negatively.
“I’m crying unto God, whether you call it political or not, and I won’t stop. If there is a vaccine with 666, I want God to destroy it. If there is any vaccine meant to corrupt the DNA of people, I’m asking God to interrupt it. Any clean vaccine, they must produce it quickly. People need that for their own health,” said an emotional Mogoeng.
“So if anybody says ‘don’t pray about 666; don’t pray against Satan; don’t pray against corruption on the DNA’, they can criticise until, until. I’m not worried about that.
“My prayer is meant for, and I hope it does touch, every well-meaning Christian to cry unto God and say ‘Lord if there is any vaccine that would negatively affect the lives of people, that vaccine must never see the light of day. You can’t say we must, as Christians, just fold our arms and say ‘whatever people come with’ is fine. No. We can’t.”
He also said he stood by his opinions.
“This is a free country. People must be careful of wanting to take us back to the era of colonialism and apartheid, where freedom of thought and opinion was not allowed. I’m not going to be silenced. I don’t care about the consequences,” he said.
“We’ve been quiet for too long – towing the line. I’m not going to tow any line and it does not matter how many people criticise me. When I believe that I need to address this issue, I am going to do it. When I feel the prompting of God to address it, I will.”
Mogoeng said he accepted that there are people who would agree with his views and take it as a prayer point and those who would reject it. “That’s how it’s supposed to be. I’m not a scientist. I’m a prayer warrior and I’m encouraging prayer warriors to pray.”