More bogus doctors plying their trade

MORE bogus doctors plying their trade in major cities Lizette Esterhuizen of Pretoria-based CSI Africa, a leading private forensic investigations company, said the arrest of a number of Nigerian doctors and a number of quacks without any qualifications working in collusion with them was only the tip of the iceberg and that many more continue to ply their trade across the country.

“All you have to do is to read the personal columns in our major daily newspapers to see the dozens of advertisements for abortions and flyers pasted on lamp posts to realise that large numbers of these quacks are continuing to put the lives of naïve and trusting patients at risk.”

“The fact that among those arrested was a ’doctor’ who somehow fraudulently found employment at the BJ Vorster Hospital in the Eastern Cape, showed how dangerous it was to take qualifications at face value.

“We know from years of experience in the background screening business that fraudulent qualifications across the board runs at between 15% and 18% and that the medical profession is currently one of the most targeted areas for credentials fraud.” The police are believed to be investigating the death of at least one patient whom this suspect is alleged to have treated at the BJ Vorster Hospital While the surgeries were owned and run by two qualified Nigerian medical practitioners, they each allegedly staffed three of their practices with unqualified doctors.

“We know that in the central business districts of Pretoria and Johannesburg large numbers of totally unqualified Nigerians work as abortionists while at the same time also working as traditional healers who promise to cure everything from AIDS to cancer Esterhuizen said.

The arrests of the two qualified doctors and their quack assistant came as the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HSPCA) said there was an increase in the number of bogus doctors in the country.

The arrest of seven people — including the two qualified doctors, one of whom, Dr Wale Aremu, is based in Pretoria — comes after a two-year investigation by the Hawks and the Health Department stretching from Limpopo to the Western Cape.

Yesterday the Hawks and a specialised team of Health Department investigators swooped on the Garsfontein home of the Pretoria doctor. The raid on his home, carried out at the same time as those in Limpopo, the Eastern and Western Cape and Mpumalanga, saw specialised cybercrime investigators seizing laptop and desktop computers, and dozens of documents and files.

The suspects, whose true identity and South African residency statuses are under investigation, are believed to have been operating their medical practices for at least three years.

During a search of the Limpopo home of the Mahlala Hospital suspect, who is a qualified doctor, police seized an estimated R300 000 in newly printed notes. It is not known where the money came from or what it was to be used for.

Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela confirmed the arrests and said the five thought to be unqualified doctors had been charged with impersonating a doctor and indecent assault, relating to the administration of medication to patients.

He said the five “quacks”, along with the two qualified doctors, would also face additional charges of fraud and corruption.

Polela said their investigations showed that each of the two genuine doctors owned at least three private practices which they allegedly staffed with quacks.

HPCSA acting chief executive Marella O’Reilly slammed the practice by bogus doctors and said there had been an increase in the number of such fraudsters. – Sapa

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