- Professor Adam Habib has called the SAMRC out for launching a formal investigation into Dr Glenda Gray
- This comes after Gray criticised the government's approach to lockdown regulations
- Her statements have divided the academic community and received a strong rebuke from Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize
The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) board has decided to formally investigate its own Dr Glenda Gray. However, Wits University vice chancellor Professor Adam Habib has called the probe a "witch hunt".
Gray was slammed last week after she made negative comments regarding the government's lockdown regulations. In an interview with News24, Gray referred to some of the lockdown laws as unscientific. She has since faced major backlash for her comments. Habib remains in her corner as he described the criticism against her as "over the top". Speaking to News24, Habib said that the probe against her was tantamount to a witch hunt.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has since responded to Gray's comments and rebuked her. Briefly.co.za reported that among numerous claims, Gray noted that hospitals were seeing patients with malnutrition for the first time in decades. Mkhize defended the state's decisions amid the Covid-19 crisis, adamant that no advice had been ignored.
Acting Department of Health Director General Dr Anban Pillay also expressed discontent over Gray's comments. He wrote to the SAMRC board, requesting an investigation into Gray. Habib was also critical of this, referring the decision to write the letter as "Tumpian".
The Wits VC is not the only one to back Dr Gray. Over 300 academics have come out in support of Gray as of Monday morning.
In a collective statement, they said they condemned the threats made against the scientist for expressing her opinion.
"We uphold the right to academic freedom of speech, and call on the South African government to engage openly with alternate views, and for all of us to urgently work towards constructive solutions regarding policy, in the interests of the country."
Habib explained the statement, saying that although many of the 300 did not agree with Gray, they believed that her opinion should not be silenced with threats.
"I think Professor Glenda Gray could have been more astute. I think there is a legitimacy for people to be annoyed because she should have engaged the media after sending the advisory to the media."
Habib went on to say that negative actions from the SAMRC would divide the science community.
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