‘Bogus’ doctors real deal, admit Hawks

Lee-Anne Butler butlerl@avusa.co.za
THE Hawks have admitted they blundered when they arrested six foreigners for using bogus qualifications to work as doctors in South Africa.
The elite crime-fighting unit swooped on the six doctors – including a state doctor working in Kareedouw – two weeks ago and charged them with impersonating doctors. They have been held in custody ever since.
But Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela said yesterday it had since emerged that at least four of the doctors were registered with the Health Professionals‘ Council of SA (HPCSA).
“However, we will still be pursuing charges against them for operating as doctors before they were officially registered last year,” he said.
After the arrests, several former patients of Dr Valentine Ezulu, who worked at the BJ Vorster Hospital in Kareedouw, about 150km from Port Elizabeth, came forward to complain about his lack of medical abilities.
Polela said the doctors had the relevant qualifications from a university in Nigeria. The Health Department was able to source this information in its own investigation. He said they were now accused of using other doctors‘ practice numbers to claim from medical aids. “For instance, Ezulu was using Dr Wale Aremu‘s practice number and name to practise medicine and this is a criminal offence.
“Four of the six doctors – Rasheed Aremu, Akinloye Eweoya, Baladale Olutu and Chike Valentine Ezulu – are all registered with the HPCSA. The HPCSA was still checking on the qualifications and registrations of the other two doctors, Daniel Mondi and a man known only as Chikulumuka.”
Polela said the six men were still being held in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, until their next court appearance tomorrow.
HPCSA spokesman Bertha Peters-Scheepers said Ezulu had been registered with the council in March last year, but only for public service.
“He is only registered to work in a government institution like a state hospital. Foreign doctors who do not have South African citizenship are registered for public service and once they obtain citizenship they can be registered to work in the private sector.”
She said the HPCSA had a copy of Ezulu‘s university qualification.
“South Africa recognises some countries‘ and some universities‘ doctors‘ degrees, but in some cases they are required to write an examination before they are allowed to practise in the country. This is to ensure our patients receive the best quality treatment.”
Peters-Scheepers said Ezulu had sat for a written examination, an ethics examination and a practical examination in April 2009 and had passed them all.
The HPCSA said doctors could perform any medical procedure, especially in rural areas, provided they had the necessary skills to do it.
Last week, the provincial Health Department said it had only employed Ezulu in May last year, after he had been registered with the HPCSA.
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