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A glib tongue, a white lab coat and a stethoscope were all that it took for Jonathan Petersen, 27, to masquerade as a Netcare doctor and convince a number of Durban businesspeople to invest in his fake schemes.
Peterson, using the alias Dr Andile Duma, was arrested by the Durban commercial crime unit this week and was found to have documents with fake logos of Netcare, KZN Department of Health, banks and forged tender award letters, employment letters and invoices.
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said Petersen, who is facing charges of fraud and impersonating a doctor, will remain in custody until June 27 for a bail application.
Netcare has distanced itself from him, saying he is not a doctor in its employ and it has no business dealings with him.
Nomusa Gumede, who runs construction and catering companies in Durban, said she was introduced to Petersen, calling himself Dr Andile Duma, in January. He promised her a lucrative tender to cater at Netcare hospitals in the province.
Gumede said when she questioned him about when work would begin, “he got angry and said I must stop asking questions or he would take the business away from me”.
Petersen allegedly started asking for money among other things, and borrowed her car for two weeks because he needed transport to sort out her tender documents. During that time she had to rent a car, costing her R4 000.
In addition, she paid him R10 000 to present her tender application to Netcare, and paid R1 200 a night for a week to put him in a hotel after he wanted to move into her home, among other amounts.
Gumede only realised something was amiss when Petersen disappeared after leaving workers stranded outside a Netcare hospital, where they were due to start work he had organised for them.
She got a phone call this week from an unknown man telling her to come to John Ross House, after Petersen was caught. “When I got there, people were asking me for their money because Andile told them I stole R3.5 million from him, which is why he can’t pay them back. I was furious.”
Another businessman who spoke on condition of anonymity said he contacted police recently after being scammed by Petersen, which led to his arrest. He said he was approached by Petersen to run a Netcare call centre in April.
“He told me he was a 50 percent shareholder of Netcare hospitals. He had letters from (it) and the Department of Health proving this. He never asked for a bribe, but for money to represent us at presentations by the application committee who awarded tenders.
“I first paid R6 000, and then R10 000, and another R8 900 for presentations. My last payment was a week ago of R2 800. I believed him because he had access cards to hospitals and guards escorted him when we visited the hospitals.”
However, things went sour between them recently. “I decided to find out more about him and found a complaint on the internet about a Dr Andile Duma who cons people out of thousands by promising lucrative tenders.”
Peterson even convinced a Department of Health official to help him get information.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the employee said Petersen came to her office a month ago claiming to be a doctor working for the department. “He was very convincing. I helped him get some information… I saw him the following day with another man, and he was wearing a stethoscope and a two-piece Netcare doctor’s uniform so I really thought he was a doctor.”
She said Petersen was well spoken and that he stayed in Ballito. His mother, a judge, stayed in Pietermaritzburg.
Jacques du Plessis, the managing director of the Netcare hospital division, said doctors at private hospitals did not wear uniforms as they were not employed by the hospital.
He added that the tenders referred to were not real.