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Law school insists on Covid vaccines for students

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The Society for Advocates has given its students an ultimatum to get the Covid-19 vaccination and present a vaccination certificate before the beginning of classes next year or risk losing their right to attend lectures.

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PRETORIA – The Society for Advocates has given its students an ultimatum to get the Covid-19 vaccination and present a vaccination certificate before the beginning of classes next year or risk losing their right to attend lectures.

In a letter seen by Indpendent Media, dated December 1, 2021, titled “Urgent letter to all 2022 pupils at the Pretoria Bar”, the law school chairperson, advocate Marc Leathern, raised concern over the coronavirus fourth wave and informed new pupils that vaccination would be mandatory.

“Vaccination has been scientifically proven to be the most effective mechanism in the prevention and mitigation of the severity of infection and it is another highly effective means through which the transmission of infection, illness and death resulting from Covid-19 is mitigated,” Leathern wrote in the letter.

He further stated that everybody was expected to vaccinate before 2022 classes for the protection of pupils, co-pupils, members, attorneys, clients and judges.

“We require that you present us with proof that you have received at least one vaccination by the time that you commence with your pupillage in 2022, or, if you have a serious, bona fide reason for not being able to be vaccinated, you must provide us with full reasons why you cannot be vaccinated.

“Where applicable, you are to provide evidence in support of your reasons, such as a medical certificate. In the event that you cannot be vaccinated, your reasons for doing so will be considered,” the letter continued.

The society, which is more than a century old, has approximately 45 pupils starting their year-long pupillage from January 3.

The non-profit-organisation is affiliated with a number of other Bars in the General Council of the Bar of South Africa (GCBSA) and trains scores of advocates each year.

Speaking to Independent Media on Sunday, Leathern said there had been no objections from any of the students who had registered for the 2022 academic year. He said: “None whatsoever that I am aware of. I presume that they see that it is necessary and sensible in the light of the current pandemic.”

When asked what would happen to any student refusing to vaccinate, he said: “Those that refused to vaccinate may not be able to attend all the lectures and workshops where they are required to come into contact with fellow pupils, lecturers and judges assisting with training.

“If and when it is possible we will try to accommodate them virtually, but that will not be ideal … They may also miss out on attending consultations with their mentors, attorneys and clients, but that will be at the discretion of those parties.”

He added that there were no rights of any pupils infringed upon with the new rules.

“All those involved in training, including the pupils themselves, have the right to be in a safe environment. If any rights are infringed (and we don’t think any are) this infringement would be necessary and justifiable,” Leathern said.

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