As South Africa battles with the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, mandatory vaccination has become a point of contention.
Initially President Cyril Ramaohosa said that nobody will be forced to get a jab of the Covid-19 vaccine. However, in recent days the president backtracked on his statement. He announced the establishment of a team to investigate mandatory vaccinations.
Public universities along with private businesses have introduced mandatory Covid-19 vaccination as a prerequisite to access certain spaces. This can be the university’s campus facilities or a company’s office space.
Recently the mandatory vaccine policies have come closer to home for many South Africans.
Domestic workers are employed by people to help assist with activities in the home. The United Domestic Workers of South Africa (UDWOSA) says employers must engage with domestic workers around the topic of Covid-19 vaccines.
UDWOSA’s Pinky Mashiane says her organisation cannot tell domestic workers they must take vaccines. She explains that it's an individual's choice but domestic workers are being put in a difficult position.
She said, “Domestic workers are vulnerable workers. They are forced by employers to take their vaccine even if they are sick because they fail to lose their job. They are told to choose between employment and vaccines so they choose to work because they need to work”.
Mashiane alleges that one domestic worker was left semi-paralysed after their employee forced them to get vaccinated. She explains that the woman said her arm became cold once she was injected with the vaccine.
“She was scared from the beginning but the employer has forced her to take it. She got sick, they left her there and after I intervened they took her to the clinic and now she's no longer working. She can't use her leg and her hand, it's a serious matter that employers have to take responsibilities”
UDWOSA are encouraging employees to engage with the domestic workers around the vaccine.
“There's still a lot that needs to be done and for employers to sit down their domestic workers and speak with them as human beings… who have constitutional rights and not to force them in this manner [then] when they get sick then they distance themselves from that. they have to take responsibility” concluded Mashiane.