The Pietermaritzburg doctor who claimed to be good friends with famous humanitarians says he wanted to emulate the work done by these activists and ‘may have got carried away’.
The Witness reports that in a statement from his attorneys, general practitioner Ashveer Ramsunder admitted that he edited pictures to depict global talk-show legend Oprah Winfrey and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai in his presence. The report says Ramsunder admitted that he had never met the two icons, and only posted the pictures on his social media pages because he wanted people to think he was a “high roller”.
The doctor said he had always been a humanitarian and the fake images were just “for Facebook purposes”. “Consequently, at no stage did I intend utilising my profile to generate an income for myself, nor did I receive any funds from any party towards my humanitarian work or defrauded any person by extorting funds,” he is quoted in the report as saying.
He listed some of the humanitarian work he had done, such as providing milk to babies in Brazil, constructing educational facilities in Ethiopia, sponsorships for children in India and offering financial support to Syrian refugees.
The report says Ramsunder was outed by friends and Facebook followers after they discovered the pictures had been faked. His followers have since lashed out at him, questioning the authenticity of his humanitarian work for Syrian children, especially as Ramsunder had asked for funds to help the refugees.
In his statement, he said he wanted to set straight the misconceptions and allegations against him. He said he still affiliates himself with charitable organisations and had personally provided donations and extensive community services in his life. “I have always assisted the less fortunate and underprivileged while pursuing my tertiary education,” he said.
He said he had visited the Oprah Winfrey Academy on numerous occasions to interact, learn and try and replicate their system, “to try and boost the lives of children countrywide”, but had never met Winfrey personally. He further withdrew any comments that created the impression that he was affiliated with the academy.
However, according to the report, he said, he received “many messages” from people abroad “that ostensibly are from Syria who are rather keen to partner with me in my humanitarian work and requested my assistance …”
The report says Ramsunder apologised for his actions. He said he would continue with his humanitarian work, but this time in conjunction with properly registered civic organisations.Full report in The Witness