Fake doctor killed patients

Patients' families demand answers why bogus medico was allowed to operate on people

SHOCKING allegations have emerged about a bogus state doctor in the Eastern Cape farming area of Kareedouw.

Despite verbal complaints from patients, private doctors and hospital board members about the doctor's behaviour and dodgy medical abilities, no investigation was ever conducted into the 35-year-old man - until the Hawks swooped last week and arrested him along with six other doctors in a sting operation spanning five provinces.

The "doctor", who cannot be named until he has pleaded, appeared in court in Mpumalanga alongside his co-accused last Thursday. They all face charges of fraud, corruption, impersonating a doctor and indecent assault. They are due back in court tomorrow.

Scores of angry residents have came forward with complaints about the "doctor" - who also worked as a standby doctor in Port Elizabeth during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

He began working at BJ Vorster Hospital last April.

Residents said though they had never suspected he was not a real doctor, his untidy appearance and how he dressed in flip-flops, baggy jeans and creased clothing, and the way he was "too friendly with the female patients" made them question his professionalism and ability.

Chris Moses, 36, said he wanted answers because his wife Sopheline, 39, died after the "doctor" and another colleague performed a Caesarian section on her.

"On the day of the birth the hospital phoned to say there were complications in theatre. When I got there the baby was already born. The 'doctor' was definitely in theatre.

"She was sent to hospital in Port Elizabeth and died seven days later. I have never been able to find out why," Moses said.

"I am not saying the blame rests squarely on his shoulders, but the mere fact that he operated and he is not a doctor sets off alarm bells in my head. How he was allowed to practise as a doctor, let alone conduct a major operation, is beyond me.

"I know it won't bring back my wife, but I want answers."

Another patient, Rosie Williams, 68, was misdiagnosed with cancer of the womb. Her granddaughter Bernadette, 23, said: "He diagnosed her with cancer last October. She was in hospital for a while. He even had her on a morphine drip.

"The family became very worried when he told us the cancer was spreading rapidly. In November he sent her to Dora Nginza Hospital claiming there was nothing more he could do for her.

"After extensive tests, doctors told her she does not have cancer at all. They told her it was ulcers, treated her and she was sent home."

Kareedouw resident Sarie Claassen said she was still mourning the sudden death of her daughter, Denise de Beer, 24, another patient.

"News of his arrest raises questions on her untimely death."

Francois Strydom, who served on the BJ Vorster Hospital board, said he resigned on Thursday because he could no longer sit back and watch the hospital collapse. He described the doctor as "pathetic".

"He arrived in town one day in a taxi and people were told he was the new doctor. From the onset I could see he was not a doctor.

"He phoned private doctors in town to find out how to treat patients because he was clueless.

"There were many complaints from patients. I requested the hospital have his qualifications and two other doctors verified on numerous occasions, but to no avail."

Provincial health spokesperson Siyanda Manana said the doctor had been cleared by the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

"The investigation is now with the Hawks, but the department is conducting an internal investigation."

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela said: "I am baffled as to how he fooled (the health department) into getting employment because those documents are fake."

- You can see more news from the Eastern Cape region in our sister newspaper, The Herald. Click here to jump there

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