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Quackdown — SA regulator flags rise in fake doctors, urges more ‘education’ about the menace

Quackdown — SA regulator flags rise in fake doctors, urges more ‘education’ about the menace
Illustrative image: Bogus doctors, Matthew Lani and Abdulkader Elyas. (Photos: Supplied | Facebook | Rawpixel)

The Health Professions Council of South Africa has received more than 300 complaints about alleged bogus medical practitioners in 2023/24 alone. The issue of individuals allegedly claiming false qualifications has even come up in the run-up to the DA’s Western Cape congress.

There is a rise in bogus medical practitioners in South Africa, according to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

During 2023/24, more than 300 complaints were received by the council and over the past three years, 136 alleged bogus practitioners have been arrested. This has prompted a crackdown on these individuals, who the council says are endangering the lives of patients.

“The HPCSA has noticed an increase in bogus practitioners throughout the country,” said HPCSA spokesperson Christopher Tsatsawe. 

“This is due to a number of reasons which include an increase in lawlessness, lack of information or awareness and vigilance, hence the HPCSA has undertaken a campaign to crack down on culprits.” 

He added that the council was not aware of any injuries or deaths caused by these bogus practitioners. 

“HPCSA is doing its best. However, more education still needs to be conducted to ensure that law enforcement agencies, the public and all other stakeholders understand how the HPCSA operates.” 

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Unethical people taking advantage of vulnerable patients’ – health professionals warn against fake doctors

Recent cases that drew considerable media attention include TikTok sensation “Dr” Matthew Bongani Lani who regularly shared medical advice on the social media platform, and Kingsley Leeto Chele who for four years has allegedly been duping his victims by posing as a medical doctor and an entrepreneur who ran a non-existent Dr King Pharmacy business from Tshwane. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Dr Who? The fraudulent underbelly of social media exposed

Authorities recently apprehended Nicola Kitsisi Seya, a Congolese woman who had been serving as a locum for a Dr Nalumango while not being registered with the council. Nalumango is registered with the HPCSA but will be reported to the medical and dental board for employing an unregistered person. Seya’s case has been rescheduled for 6 December 2023.

DA councillor

Abdulkader Elyas, a DA politician and City of Cape Town councillor, is facing a probe for allegedly lying about having a medical qualification. 

It was reported that party insiders claimed Elyas was so shrewd that he pitched up at a party selection panel in 2021 wearing scrubs, claiming to have just come from a hospital call.

The HPCSA confirmed that Elyas was not a registered practitioner. Last month, he was elected as an additional member during the DA’s Cape Metro Region congress, during which JP Smith was elected chairperson.  

Elyas will contest again for the same position but at provincial level when the DA convenes its Western Cape congress on Saturday. 

Responding to Daily Maverick’s questions, Elyas said: “It is common cause that I was a medical student, not a medical doctor. The relevant information is with the DA. We are at the height of internal congress contestation in the province. I would recommend you send queries directly to the DA.” 

Desiree van der Walt, the presiding officer for the DA congress, said the investigation has not been concluded and does not affect Elyas’s contestation.

“Like in any law, you’re innocent until proven guilty. There is a process going on, he hasn’t been found guilty yet. So, he is eligible to be a candidate.” 

Suspicious practitioners and/or activities at practices can be reported to the HPCSA here. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Peter Wanliss says:

    R250 (cash, no receipt) will get you a sick certificate, an injection and some pills. The details on the certificate are legit, but is this actually the person your employee saw?

  • Romy Romy says:

    Such a poorly written article from DM, disappointing. The paucity of the evidence to justify the title is astounding. After reading this , I still wonder how do you come to the conclusion that cases of bogus doctors are increasing. Confabulating fake doctors and unregistered medical personnel is also a bit of a stretch. The reader cannot make that difference of you don’t explicitly explain the difference between the two.

  • Mike Blackburn says:

    The HPCSA says “they’re doing their best”?

    Please. The HPCSA has been mired in scandal and corruption for the last 10years. It has consistently failed to meet its mandate despite exorbitant (and obligatory) registration fees which have increased at well above inflation for the last 3 cycles.

    It is not protecting the profession and patients from predatory behaviour by medical schemes and hospital groups and is not fit for purpose.

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