In a major breach of security, a man allegedly impersonating his own doctor walked into Dora Nginza Hospital in Port Elizabeth, put on scrubs and a mask, and started doing ward rounds.
It was only after he had got his hands on a confidential patient list of women in the labour ward and allegedly stolen a cellphone, that nurses apprehended him and called security and the police.
While the police went to investigate the incident, health authorities are still deciding whether to press criminal charges.
To add to the bizarre nature of the incident, the man is a patient of well-known general practitioner Dr Mthembeni Tebelele, who he was allegedly impersonating.
Eastern Cape health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said they had received a call about the alleged imposter at 4am on Monday.
“He was wearing scrubs. He took the patient list in the labour ward and was doing rounds.”
Kupelo said the patient whose phone was stolen did not want to open a case as the device was returned to her.
A decision on bringing criminal charges would only be made once an internal investigation had been finalised.
Kupelo said the department was in the process of reviewing the security contracts for its facilities in Nelson Mandela Bay, following a number of thefts at clinics and a rape at Dora Nginza this year.
The man allegedly used a fake access card and Tebelele’s business card to gain access to the labour ward.
Tebelele said he was at home at the time of the incident.
“I was only informed of what happened by one of the nurses who phoned me.
“She is one of my patients and knows me,” Tebelele said.
“I am not sure how he sneaked in or got to be dressed [in scrubs]. “I am told he carried my business card and introduced himself as me.”
Staff at the hospital said the man walked up to a patient in the ward, told her she was not allowed to have a phone, and then allegedly took her phone.
When he tried to run out, he was apprehended. “I received another call from a colleague who works at the department of obstetrics and gynaecology to tell me what had happened,” Tebelele said.
“When they sent me a picture of the guy, I recognised him.
“I know him well as a patient – I also know his family.” He said he could only guess as to the man’s motives.
“I guess it was purely criminal. His mom will come to see me.
“He is just a wayward kid who needs God,” Tebelele said.
“I am greatly concerned though how he got to use my name and how easy it was for him to gain entry to the ward and mingle with patients.”
Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said no case had yet been opened against the man.
“I can confirm that the police were called out.
“At the hospital, we received a report that the suspect pretended to be a doctor and allegedly took the phone of a patient,” he said.
“When the police arrived on the scene, the patient refused to make a case, saying she was happy that she got her phone back.”
Several attempts to obtain comment from Khobani Security, the firm contracted to provide security at the hospital, were unsuccessful.