EC fake doctors facilitated issue of public driving permits

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The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) says it has cracked down on fake doctors who fraudulently issue medical certificates to motorists needing them to get public driving permits in the Eastern Cape, reports The Times. Spokesperson Simon Zwane said traffic anti-corruption authorities had visited 10 medical practices in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.

“At least two suspects were arrested for allegedly practising medicine unlawfully while two others were taken in for questioning. Investigations are continuing and more arrests are expected,” Zwane said.

According to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), both of the unregistered doctors were Congolese nationals who had been employed to work at facilities run by registered doctors. The doctors were awarding certificates of fitness without conducting any medical assessments on patients.

“The crackdown was undertaken by the National Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit of the Road Traffic Management Corporation in collaboration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and the South African Medical Products Regulatory Authority to deal with doctors who irregularly issue medical certificates to individuals seeking to apply for public drivers’ permits,” Zwane said.

The report said the bodies launched the operation to reduce the high number of deadly accidents on the province’s roads, many of which they believed were the result of poor driver fitness. In 2018 alone, 9,195 public drivers’ permits were issued in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. “It is believed that many of these were issued to undeserving individuals,” said Zwane.

The issue of bogus doctors awarding these documents was, however, not limited to the Eastern Cape. Zwane said in the report that in Gauteng, 17 unregistered doctors were arrested in raids. “Sixteen of them pleaded guilty and were convicted to fines ranging from R5,000 to R20,000 or jail terms not exceeding six months,” said Zwane. Similar raids were expected to be rolled out all over the country.

Meanwhile, the report says the the HPCSA has expressed concern at the growing number of unregistered people who were practising as doctors. “Practitioners are warned to refrain from employing unregistered practitioners as this is in contravention of the Health Professions Act,” the council said.

The Times report

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