UFS’s COVID-19 vaccine policy challenged in High Court

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The University of the Free State’s COVID-19 compulsory vaccination policy is flawed and irrational, University Alliance South Africa has told the High Court in Bloemfontein. It adds that the university failed to take into account all the available scientific evidence when drafting the policy.

The UFS Covid policy was approved in November 2021 and implemented on 14 February 2022 for students and workers.

University Alliance South Africa says the COVID-19 policy was unjustifiable and invited unfair discrimination to those who were not vaccinated. The legality of the policy has also been questioned. This has been found to be an immaterial error of law.

The alliance has told the court that the university failed to justify its reasons for implementing the policy while violating the rights of the students and employees. It’s also been argued that the affidavit submitted by the university is misrepresented and characterized by unsubstantiated claims.

“There is no scientific evidence, all was implemented without considering other factors. The mandate affected both students and employees and this should set the tone if anything like this happens again,” says Advocate Jan Heunis, University Alliance South Africa.

It was claimed that those who refused to take the vaccine lost their jobs and that the public were denied access to health care within the university.

Meanwhile, the University of the Free State submitted that there is no sufficient reason why the court should entertain the matter as it is past COVID and restrictions were lifted by the university.

Senior counsel Geoff Budlender added that at the time, a precautionary measure had to be implemented to stop the scourge of the virus and that 404 Staff members and 669 students had COVID-19.

“There is no reason why this court should entertain this case because it is moot…,”

The university wants the application to be dismissed with costs. The alliance however says the outcome of the case will be in the interest of South Africans who value the Bill of Rights.