NATIONAL NEWS - Wits University vice-chancellor professor Adam Habib has labelled the South African Medical Research Council’s (SAMRC) decision to investigate its leader Professor Glenda Gray “a witch hunt”.
Habib said the SAMRC’s behaviour would have a chilling effect on the entire scientific community.
The council’s board has reportedly apologised for comments made by Gray regarding the government’s apparent handling of its lockdown advice.
The board is also barring Gray and her staff from speaking to the media until the matter of her public comments is resolved.
The DA’s John Steenhuisen said: “This gagging and grovelling follows a campaign of bullying of the president of the MRC, professor Glenda Gray, after she spoke critically in an interview of aspects of the lockdown response.”
Last night, President Cyril Ramaphosa referred to the spat and offered a seemingly conciliatory statement.
“We appreciate the diverse and sometimes challenging views of the scientists and health professionals in our country, which stimulate public debate and enrich our response,” the president said.
Steenhuisen said: “The censoring of scientists by the Medical Research Council, along with a grovelling apology issued by its board chairperson, Professor Johnny Mahlangu, to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, makes a mockery of President Ramaphosa’s statement.”
Gray previously called South Africa’s phased exit from the lockdown nonsensical and unscientific and said it should be eradicated completely.
Gray has since clarified that she did not criticise the lockdown or the extension of the lockdown, but emphasised that her critical comments related to some of the regulations.
Her views received widespread support from many in the medical community.
In March, she was appointed a member of the MAC, where she was the chairperson of the research subcommittee.
She is also the chief executive officer of the SAMRC and an expert in infectious diseases.