Johann Rupert, reputed to be South Africa’s second richest man after Nicky Oppenheimer, has reacted to the storm of criticism after it emerged the billionaire received a Covid-19 shot at a private hospital in Switzerland, even before the launch of the vaccination campaign in the country.

Rupert confirmed to Moneyweb that he did get the jab, but that he was “not involved” in the process of securing the appointment.

Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger claimed in a report Friday that the South African-born entrepreneur managed to be among the first group of people to get the vaccination in Switzerland in December.

Rupert’s Covid jab has drawn outrage in Switzerland with Rupert crucified for using his influence to skip to the front of the queue even before the launch of the vaccination campaign in Switzerland.

Dont talk to me, talk to my physician

Rupert received the vaccination at a Frauenfeld city hospital owned by the Hirslanden Group, which is in-turn owned by JSE-listed Mediclinic International in which Rupert’s own JSE-listed investment group Remgro has a significant stake, according to Tages-Anzeiger.

Rupert’s response to Moneyweb’s question referencing that Covid-19 shot:

“My physician arranged it.”

When asked about criticism over jumping the queue to get the vaccination, he replied:

“I was not involved in the appointment – my doctor set it up.”

The Richemont and Remgro boss then got all defensive:

“There were many before me… I have also been paying Swiss Health Insurance for over 30 years… [I am] over 70 years and [have] comorbidity as recognized by Swiss Law.”

‘An affront’

A very angry Nina Schläfli, President of the SP party in the Canton of Thurgau, is not buying into Rupert’s rant, ahem, defence.

Tages-Anzeiger reported that she told them over the phone that she is “unspeakably annoyed.”

“Can you get anything with money? A billionaire could fly in and everyone else would have to stand behind. It is inconceivable to prefer someone like that.” 

Schläfli said her party is demanding answers as to “how exactly this was possible and who made it possible,” adding, that the awarding of the vaccine contract to the Hirslanden Group must also be investigated.

In a hard-hitting Tages-Anzeiger editorial, Rupert and the rich were in for right royal roasting.

“The vaccination egoism of the powerful and the rich is unbearable.”

“It is unbearable when entrepreneurs and politicians jostle to protect themselves from a potentially fatal disease from everyone else – as if they actually felt that their life was worth more than the average person’s.”

Rupert rolls on

Rupert said Richemont’s executive committee decided in December that the “entire leadership would get vaccinated ASAP.”

He said the move was aimed at “setting an example” for the rest of his colleagues at Richemont, “many of whom were worried, scared, and doubtful about vaccines.”

The billionaire businessman said the world needs herd immunity as soon as possible for to avert massive unemployment and chaos.

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