Rupert responds to Swiss Covid-19 vaccination uproar

After newspaper report claims billionaire jumped the queue in Switzerland before national vaccination drive began.
Johann Rupert is the chairman of JSE-listed Remgro, which has a significant stake in Mediclinic. He is also chairman of Swiss luxury goods giant Richemont. Image: Bloomberg

Johann Rupert, reputed to be South Africa’s second richest man, confirmed on Friday that he received a Covid-19 vaccination at a private hospital in Switzerland, however, was “not involved” in the process of securing the appointment.

Rupert did not take calls, but responded briefly via a messaging service to queries from Moneyweb, following Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger claiming in a report on Friday that he managed to be among the first group of people to get the vaccination in Switzerland in December.

The move has drawn outrage in Switzerland (and on Friday morning in South Africa), with Rupert being accused of using his influence to skip to the front of the queue even before the launch of the vaccination campaign in Switzerland.

According to Tages-Anzeiger, Rupert received the vaccination at a Frauenfeld city hospital owned by the Hirslanden Group, which is in-turn owned by JSE-listed Mediclinic International.

Rupert’s own JSE-listed investment group Remgro has a significant stake in Mediclinic. The Swiss newspaper reported that Hirslanden secured a provincial contract to roll out the vaccination drive in Switzerland’s  Thurgau region, of which Frauenfeld is the capital.

In his response to Moneyweb, Rupert noted “my physician arranged it” (in reference to securing a dose of the vaccine).

When asked about accusations of jumping the queue to get the vaccination, he replied: “I was not involved in the appointment – my doctor set it up.”

He added: “There were many before me… I have also been paying Swiss Health Insurance for over 30 years”

Rupert, who is founder and current chairman of the Swiss-based and JSE-listed luxury goods giant Richemont, explained that he has been a Swiss taxpayer since the start of Richemont 31 years ago.

“[I am] over 70 years and [have] comorbidity as recognised by Swiss Law,” he said, further noting that in Switzerland “they [vaccines] are already on healthy 55-year-olds in Zurich from next Monday”.

Read: Chinese luxury goods market boosts Richemont

He defended his decision to take the vaccine, noting: “Richemont’s executive committee decided in December that the entire leadership would get vaccinated ASAP.”

He said that the move was aimed to “set an example” for the rest of his colleagues at Richemont, adding “many of whom were worried/scared/doubtful about vaccines”. He however, stressed that “vaccination is an individual choice”.

“Richemont has nearly 10 000 employees in Switzerland alone – most [of whom are] in factories. Another +/- 4 500 work for supplier,” he noted.

“If customers do not feel safe walking into our +/- 3 500 boutiques stores across the world, what will happen to the jobs in Switzerland?” he added.

“We need herd immunity ASAP for the world to avert massive unemployment and chaos,” said Rupert.

South Africa is yet to commence its Covid-19 vaccination process, with the first stage being restricted for frontline healthcare workers.

Mediclinic is yet to comment on the uproar. However, the Swiss newspaper mentions in its story that Hirslanden confirmed that Rupert received the vaccine in December.



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Well done JR – I would do exactly the same if I was able to.

I don’t know what the fuss is all about?

It’s a human being who received a jab in a foreign country, whats wrong with that?

As it stands, if he waits in line with all of us in SA, he’ll probably receive it on his 95th birthday

This Government cannot even issue licenses, now they want to roll out a vaccine and run a National Health Care

Their inability to Govern will be the death of many of us yet…Where’s the vaccine Squirrel et al?

Clearly, the sheer arrogance and cynicism escapes you.

Name any 70-year-old billionaire with comorbidities who are not vaccinated. Sad that he could not get that in his own country……

Why? Are you fat? Old? Extremely unhealthy? If no then it would just be an extremely selfish act. Lets me explain it like this, theres only so many vaccines in the world. Just cause u a billionaire doesnt mean you skip the que. That boomer thinking that got us into undesirable world. Be better.

He didn’t skip the line. Did you read the article?

He’s paid Swiss health insurance for 31 years. He should get it before most people. He’s 70 years old and is a massive employer in that country and owns properties there.

What’s the fuss about? Why are you so mad. Maybe you are offended? Show me proof that he puts porky
Skipped the line. Until then, relax.

well done Mr Rupert , do nt listen to the commie have nots their motto is
“reduce everybody to the lowest common denominator “ , until they r hungry then they beg from the rich

Yaa. Trying to sell newspapers.


Nothing untoward here.

These vaccines have been brought to the market without the legally required testing protocol. The testing is being conducted upon the public. The media assumes that there is nothing to be concerned about, but there are valid reasons for the required protocol which have been learned from bitter experience. The volunteer guineau pigs should be applauded for going first.

Lol. Get a life. What a waste to even write this up.

He probably didn’t even get the vaccine. It is all a marketing stunt, he said himself: set an example, so that more get the vaccine.

Do you really think a billionaire like him would get some experimental vaccine that has only been out for a few months and has had many casualties and severe symptoms. Everything the media denies.

Please be patient. Still being assessed. Very complex. Takes a long time.
22 JANUARY 2021 @ 6:43 PM
These vaccines have been brought to the market without the legally required testing protocol. The testing is being conducted upon the public. The media assumes that there is nothing to be concerned about, but there are valid reasons for the required protocol which have been learned from bitter experience. The volunteer Guinea pigs should be applauded for going first.
Comment on story: Rupert responds to Swiss Covid-19 vaccination uproar

So what. I would have done the same.

Is this because he used his initiative or because he is Johan Rupert?

I am glad he has taken this step, obviously not done lightly but bearing in mind how many people rely on his expertise to live, go to varsity, retire etc it is very responsible of him.

On the basis of logic alone, your statements are devoid of sense.

Just because “most people are doing it” or “I would do the same” is never an acceptable explanation for an action that is being challenged.

Of course, the reasonableness of the challenge needs to be establish as a first.

You must be replying to someone else.

I made no mention of most people doing it.

Read below many would do it. So don’t understand your angle unless you just want to get up my nose.

See my votes.

Good for him. We do everything by proxy in SA anyway.

Well done Johann — Wish I could emulate the feat rather than have to wait -another 2 years for the sinovac to arrive.

Well, I would not expect anything less from a pragmatist. He has done more than his fair share for society. I would have given him my personal dose of vaccine if he asked for it. I also jumped the queue when I took ivermectin as prophylaxis against covid. If you snooze you lose.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the top echelons of cANCer have also had the shots here in SA.

Naaaa. The Guptas maybe. The rest of them have got muti and government tenders to solve all their challenges.

Non-story. The man is over 70 and has comorbidities. Of course he must be in front of the queue. Did Biden also “jump the queue”? No, he’s a democrat so that’s OK.

Stop talking out of your gat!! Biden is way more important than Rupert.

You refer to Bin Liden?

Bad optics and tone deaf excuse. JRs comorbidities are inconsequential. It’s not like he is forced to go down to the corner store in a mask when he runs out of milk like the rest of us, I’m fairly sure he doesn’t know where his milk comes from. When does the excuse ‘I don’t know’ or ‘wasnt aware’ no longer hold water. He is hyper aware how Covid affects his business, then unaware when he has to inject something into his body. Give me a break. If you really want to make an example give your shot to an employee that is high risk and stay in isolation a bit longer.

The SJW at their most woke again. He pays Swiss health insurance and is a taxpayer there. So he got the vaccine in a country that works, not spend all their energy on plotting theft and corruption.

Obviously, like many others here, you did not read the article, it is the very country (Switzerland) that is outraged about his behavior.

and it is even more bizarre that the SWISS don’t object about him living in their country but quibble about an injection? This shouldn’t have been an issue.

I look at our (useless) government VIPs whom they collect in VIP car next to the airplane. Yet nobody says anything about them jumping the que on a daily basis.

Why is this even an article Moneyweb? So someone got a vaccine and you feel that its worthy of an article to incite the white privilege narrative? Your intent is in question here? This isn’t worthy news.

Vaccine tourism will be a thing. Canada has procured multiples of how many doses they need for example

I suspect that any tourist in Canada (if you’re allowed in) will have to stand in line (not to mention quarantine) until all Canadians have had their shot. Probably only the rich and connected and those with dual citizenship could be successful with that.

I am always surprised by the unthinking bad press this man gets. The mind truly boggles. If we had more people like Rupert in control in SA things would look less like Zimbabwe/Venezuela and more like a properly run country. I don’t know why he has not taken his family and left… I would have made an exit a long time ago and left the locals to the misery that is coming down in the very near future.

This article happens to be very convenient for the (useless) ANC political elite: it conveniently takes the focus away as to WHY South Africa hasn’t even started on an approved vaccine…..

…..and then instead focusing on (a priveledged, superwealthy whitey) already receiving the vaccine (in his age group / co-morbidity level) in a tiny part of the world where things work, and NEXT WEEK the Swiss continue to roll out to less co-morbid 55-year olds.

I have a good Swiss-German friend in Gauteng. Their motto is:

“You either do it right the first time around, or you don’t even attempt it at all”

Agree with all the ‘well done’s”. We are to useless to get vaccine so what what we do. I would do the same if i had the chance.

Just like every political party and group in S.A. are standing up for one or the other comrade, and though Mr. J. Rupert is a do-gooder for all in S.A; BE WARNED NOW:
You touch Mr. Johan Rupert and you will have trouble you cannot possibly now anticipate from the ones that contribute 90% of all taxes in South Africa. Unwillingly and unaware Mr. Johan Rupert has become a figure of respect to those South Africans that carries the heavy tax burden of this country. Capish.

First and foremost, protect yourself above all else. Why? Because you are a provider to the bigger cause. Simple!

Secondly, if you can not get assistance in your local ambit, by all means take the necessary action to do so successfully.


Selfish, arrogant old man, never misses an opportunity to show off his power, wealth and lack of judgement on social and moral issues. He’s despised by the very people (Swiss) that adopted him (if you did not know he resides and so do his holding company in Switzerland). He seriously believes that his life is to be preserved at all costs so he can save that of other.

Right on.And thank you.At least one freethinking armchair critic.Bravo!

If only you had achieved the same.

To answer your question, not in mine intentions ever. This was on the news this morning to show what individuals like him have achieved in this world:

“The divide between rich and poor is “proving as deadly” as coronavirus, the boss of Oxfam said, as research shows the world’s richest people recouped their pandemic losses within just nine months. The charity said it would take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Hope for you that you are not in the same group as the world’s poorest.

Not a big deal, probably good for Covid to get inoculated against Rupert. And anyway his doctor booked it as a matter of course and also he booked deliberately to set an example all at the same time. Amazing…

Good for Rupert. He worked for it. He is a self made man without state capture, stealing or corruption. As soon as I can fly out of SA I do the same. I pay 45 tax and contribute to this country.
Stuff the illiterate that votes ANC. I will look after myself.

End of comments.



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