Cop arrested for posing as doctor

A PORT Elizabeth police sergeant from the forensic unit was arrested yesterday for allegedly posing as a medical doctor on his days off from fighting crime.

John Fortuin, 42, a photographer at the Local Criminal Record Centre (LCRC), also known as the forensic unit, was arrested by the Hawks unit after it was discovered he was allegedly posing as a stand-in general practitioner at a practice at the Cleary Park Shopping Centre.

Following an investigation of several months, Fortuin was arrested at the Mount Road police station, where the forensics unit is based. He was then taken to the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court and released on R500 bail.

According to detectives, Fortuin was employed as a locum doctor for KwaZulu-Natal-based Dr Kanaya Maharaj, who owns a practice on the first floor of the shopping centre building.

Fortuin had apparently been working part-time at the practice for the past six months where he had the authority to treat patients, and prescribe schedule drugs and antibiotics.

Police believe he may have seen about 500 patients since being employed at the practice since March.

According to Maharaj’s receptionist at the Cleary Park practice, Maharaj comes to Port Elizabeth once a month.

When asked about Fortuin, she said: "Yes, he worked here as a locum. I have not seen him in a while.”

Yesterday Maharaj declined to comment, saying the police had asked him not to divulge details to the media while the investigation was ongoing.

"I absolutely did not know he was not a doctor when I employed him,” he added.

"He would book off from his work at the police and work as a doctor. On his days of rest he would also go and work as a doctor,” said an officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Background checks revealed Fortuin had no medical qualifications whatsoever.”

Head of the Port Elizabeth Organised Crime division of the Hawks Colonel Hyron Booysen yesterday confirmed Fortuin’s arrest and referred all comment to their national spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko.

Ramaloko confirmed that the arrest came after months of investigation.

"We are working with the Health Professions Council [of South Africa] to add more charges against him.

"We are still trying to determine the exact number of people he treated and once we know that, we will know how many counts are to be brought against him.”

Ramaloko said paperwork had been put forward to Fortuin’s commander recommending that Fortuin be suspended. Officers working at the forensic unit said Fortuin had other internal pending cases as a result of being absent from work for about two years.

"He was previously booked off sick for almost two years, and it was discovered that he had enrolled as a full-time student at a university during this time,” one officer said.

Health Professions Council spokeswoman Bertha Peters-Scheepers confirmed Fortuin was not registered as a doctor with the council – as required by law.

"The council will be investigating this matter and will also be working closely with the police,” she said.

Peters-Scheepers said a complaint would also be filed against Maharaj for failing to do the necessary checks to ensure that Fortuin was medically qualified.

"We will investigate the doctor for failing to comply with regulations and take the necessarily action against him,” she added.

The matter has been handed to the Director of Public Prosecutions for review.

Fortuin has been charged with fraud and violation of the Health Professional’s Act. His case was postponed to October 25 for detectives to gather further evidence.

This is a version of an article that appeared in the print edition of the Weekend Post on Saturday, September 14, 2013.