If they‘re doctors, prove it, magistrate orders

Retha Grobelaar and McKeed Kotlolo
CHAOS reigned in the Middelburg Magistrate‘s Court in Mpumalanga yesterday as even the magistrate presiding over the bail application of six men, who allegedly worked as doctors without being registered, was confused about whether they were doctors or not.
Dr Valentine Ezulu, who worked at the BJ Vorster Hospital in Kareedouw, about 150km from Port Elizabeth, is among the six accused. All are charged with fraud and corruption. Four, including Ezulu, are also charged with impersonating a medical practitioner and indecent assault – for treating patients and providing them with medication. The other two accused, Dr Akiloye Eweoye and Dr Rasheed Aremu, allegedly helped the others find employment using their own legitimate practice number.
Magistrate Mark Botha ordered both the state and defence to find the men‘s degree certificates and consult with the universities where they studied to establish whether they were doctors.
He said when the case returned to court tomorrow they should be able to prove “who is a doctor and who is not a doctor”.
“If you give me a degree (certificate), I am not going to accept it at face value. I will satisfy myself first before accepting it.”
The bail application was dragged out by a detailed questioning of one of the investigators, Constable Frans Aphane, by prosecutor Ansie Venter.
Defence counsel advocate Nic Potgieter repeatedly quoted a statement by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi saying the doctors were properly registered with the Health Professionals Council of South Africa.
But Botha rejected this, saying he was not going to accept anything said by politicians outside the courtroom. “I will not allow it in this court. I can only accept it if he could come into this court and say it.”

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