Six people have been arrested in theWestern Cape for allegedly practising without valid licences, the Hawks said in an IOL report. Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the “doctors” were arrested during raids on 15 premises in Bellville, Paarl, eMbwekweni, Khayelitsha and Philippi. “This was, of course, after an allegation was made,” said Mulaudzi. “Undercover work was done to confirm the allegation,” he said.
The report says those arrested were between the ages of 33 and 49. The raids were carried about by officials from the Western Cape Hawks, Crime Intelligence, the police’s Forensic Science Laboratory and the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
Investigators also allegedly found medicine, documents and electronic devices.
Rashid Mahfouz appeared in the Philippi Magistrate’s Court and Bunnel Tunda Kitete appeared in the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court in Cape Town. The rest were expected to appear in different courts.
Their charges include violating the Health Professions Act and other related medical acts, fraud, forgery and uttering, as well as money laundering.
The HPCSA expressed concern over an apparent spike in bogus doctors emerging across South Africa.
“The arrests reinforce the challenge that the HPCSA and law enforcement have in ensuring that bogus practitioners do not practise anywhere in South Africa.
“It is important for the public to know how to identify bogus practitioners and where to lodge a complaint. Practising illegally is a criminal offence,” HPCSA spokesperson Priscilla Sekhonyana said.
She said the HPCSA and the Hawks had received tip-offs regarding the bogus practitioners. Based on these, an investigation was then conducted to ensure that the allegations were true.
“The HPCSA is concerned about the many bogus practitioners that are present countrywide,” Sekhonyana said. In November last year the HSPCA released a list of unregistered or illegal medical practitioners issuing medical certificates in the Western Cape. Sekhonyana said bogus doctors were having a crippling effect on economy.
“Bogus doctors do not pay tax. They rob members of the community of their hard-earned money and issue fake medical certificates to employees which affect productivity,” she said.
Last year the HSPCA reported that in the last three years 300 bogus doctors had been prosecuted.
SA Medical Association chairperson Mark Sonderup said: “We have maintained unequivocally that anybody who is practising illegally is committing a crime and should be prosecuted as a criminal, and this is remotely not a professional issue because they are not professionals.”
He said bogus doctors were a massive cause for concern because of the harm they could do.
The report says the HPCSA has warned doctors to also not employ unregistered locums after the Hawks swooped in on a practice in Wolmaransstad in the North West where they made one arrest. Another person was arrested in Ottosdal, also in the North West.