SOUTH AFRICA – Liseko Investments, a small 17-year-old passive investment holding company owned by a group of medical doctors, has distanced itself from claims alleging the company is a partner to Aspen Pharmacare.

This follows claims made by Fana Mokoena, a political leader in the country, linking the investments company to the pharmaceutical giant charged with production of the J&J vaccine.

Liseko is threatening to take legal action against Fana Mokoena for what it said were defamatory comments he posted on Twitter on Friday.

These comments were made on the same day hundreds of citizens lead by Julius Malema gathered outside the offices of Sahpra for their “march to save lives” demanding approval of the Chinese and Russian Covid-19 vaccines for use in SA.

In a statement, Liseko Investments said the comments were defamatory and malicious.

We take deep exception to the scurrilous libel directed at Liseko and its directors and will pursue such legal remedies as we deem appropriate,” the company said in a statement.

The company said it holds no direct or indirect interest in the business, operations or strategy of Aspen Pharmacare and “averments to the contrary are false and libelous”.

Liseko explained that in 2005, it purchased a minority equity interest in a consortium that, in turn, held a small equity stake in Aspen Pharmacare.

In 2015, the company exited the investment and the shares were unbundled to its shareholders, after which Liseko held no further direct or indirect interest in Aspen Pharmacare.

“At no time during the period of the investment was Liseko’s beneficial interest in Aspen material. Liseko was not involved in either the board or operations of the consortium or of Aspen Pharmacare.”

Ramaphosa defends use of J&J

Speaking at the opening session of the Qatar Economic Forum, Ramaphosa said SA would be going ahead with its vaccination program using the Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that in the past three days, the country received an additional 1.2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine through the COVAX facility.

The president said this as he made the announcement of the new COVID-19 restriction measures due to a surge of COVID-19 cases particularly the Delta Variant.

Ramaphosa said nearly 2.7 million people have received a vaccine dose. In the last week, the daily vaccination rate surpassed 100,000 in the country.

The president also said that over 950,000 health care workers have now been vaccinated across the country and the registration and vaccination of this cohort continues.