by UnHerd Staff
Wednesday, 22
December 2021
Video
15:05

Why South Africans are refusing the vaccine

Brian Pottinger talks to Freddie Sayers about his country's response to Covid
by UnHerd Staff

As new data about the Omicron variant is interpreted (and perhaps predictably, misinterpreted) by experts worldwide, South Africa has become a coronavirus case-study under global surveillance. Last week, UnHerd spoke to Pieter Streicher about the data coming out of Gauteng, but we now wanted to look at the bigger picture in that country.

To get a snapshot into the cultural and political reality on the ground, Freddie Sayers sat down with Brian Pottinger, former Editor of the South African Sunday Times. He joined UnHerd from his home on the KwaZulu Natal North Coast.

It appears that the discovery of the Omicron variant is going to bring to a head some of the tensions that Pottinger has been detailing for UnHerd over the last year. South Africa is in an unusually precarious position. Another set of restrictions looks likely to cause discontent in the already fractious and divided society.

Interestingly, however, South Africa remains mostly unvaccinated, with only around 26% of the country having received both jabs. Pottinger attributes this scepticism to factors ranging from the political to the superstitious, but one thing is for certain: if the Government were to implement further restrictions and even a lockdown, such ‘blunt instruments’ could create spectres of South Africa’s past divisions. Protests against government handling of the pandemic have also descended into rioting and looting, which he has witnessed first hand in his own village.

Public distrust for government has only been exacerbated by past corruption, mishandling of other crises and cultural divides between ‘warrior scientists’ and a population known to be one of the ‘most protest prone in the world’. While green shoots seem to be emerging in Gauteng, with hospitalisations seem to be matching Peter Stricher’s low predictions, it remains to be seen how the ‘fragile democracy’ of South Africa will hold up under this new strain.

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Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
6 months ago

I hope the South Africans bring the whole rotten covid grift crashing to the ground. At this point it cannot be believed that the “eliminate covid” brigade are acting with one scintilla of sincerity. This virus has done what every virus in history has ever done. It’s mutated into an essentially non-lethal form for reasons of pure Darwinian survival — a dead host is useless to it. People need to stop worrying about displaying their virtue, wake the hell up and start smelling what’s being shovelled by the political caste.

Last edited 6 months ago by Francis MacGabhann
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
6 months ago

Very well said. Be sure that there are South Africans (many of the middle class ie these people have money) who have enthusiastically joined in creating a climate of maximum fear, calls for lockdowns, restrictions, vaccine mandates and the like. These are obviously the people who have the majority voice in the corporate media and much of social media – the poor don’t have a voice and the middle classes who speak out are responded to as nutters and conspiracy theorists who don’t care about human life.
However more and more seem to be joining the ranks of the sceptics. Omicron is way less deadly, crime is on the rise again because of lockdowns and hence people are being shaken awake.

Last edited 6 months ago by Lesley van Reenen
Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago

The overriding concern all along was to prevent overwhelming hospitals, esp ICUs and that has been achieved. Eliminating the virus was never an option but may have been an aspiration or a hope. We cannot condemn anyone for all that.
In my village a small stream can become a raging torrent in 30 mins: 30 mins after that its level drops to safety again but in that time ot wreaks havoc to the village.
The solution was to construct 20 small dams along its steep course. The stream still delivers the same quantity of water in heavy downpours but it takes twice as long to flow through the village and so achieves only half the depth and half the flow rate. Success. We could never stop the flow: of course not. But we could slow it’s progress.
The efforts to cope with Covid were the same. And they did work.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

You will figure out in due course that the money lost by damaging lockdowns (that actually don’t work), will negatively affect the health industry further. I can remember being in the UK 20 years ago and the NHS was overwhelmed and people were in passageways. Address the problem – which is the NHS.

Mike Hardwicke
Mike Hardwicke
6 months ago

Talk of superstition – what rubbish! Nobody with an iota of common sense would take these so-called vaccines given their dangers and given the tiny deathrate from a flu virus for anyone remotely healthy. Well done South Africa for resisting I say.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Hardwicke

indeed, …. rationality in medicine often gets it very wrong, instincts tend to get it right for individual cases.
The difficulty is how to fit health policy in this which has a large political side to it…. ah politics

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Hardwicke

And your relevant qualifications are? ..or do you think the opinions of ignorant amateurs are just as valid as those of experts?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Plenty of experts are cautioning against the vaccines.

David Lewis
David Lewis
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Hardwicke

Removed

Last edited 5 months ago by David Lewis
Susan
Susan
6 months ago

“Public distrust for government has been exacerbated by past corruption, mishandling of other crises, and cultural divides”. Boris et al – are you listening?

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
6 months ago
Reply to  Susan

Indeed, I think Freddie and many are underestimating the level of distrust that the handling of covid has generated. Interestingly, yesterday I was reading the SPARS document from John Hopkins. You can clearly see that their disregard for people’s rights. They really just think of us as cattle. All they care about is maximising compliance, no matter the long term harms.

Last edited 6 months ago by Fran Martinez
craigtza
craigtza
5 months ago

Living in SA and I am not vaccinated, I got Omincron. 44 yrs old / 22.9 BMI / 10 – 12 hours exercise per week and virus lasted all of 5 days. 18 days now and I feel great, actually worked out well as the virus gave me a chance to rest for a week and work on some other projects. Like a cold on the worst day. I know not everyone has the same experience but the way this vaccine is being pushed and forced on people is disgusting. Any company who would take away a job from a person for not having a vaccine in a country where there is 30% unemployment is just appalling. How many people work and support big households and now you give that person a “choice” to lose their job? Golf Foxtrot Yankee. I even sold my car to support families affected by the lockdown. Anyone pushing that vaccine, how many households did you support during the lockdowns?

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
5 months ago

Bless you Freddie! Great interview once again. I learned a lot. It was well balanced and ever so reasonable. Everything that legacy media no longer provides.