An alleged unregistered medical practitioner will remain behind bars after his bail appeal was denied in the Western Cape High Court this week.
Rasheed Mahfouz, 65, who is facing fraud-related charges, was arrested in February while practising as a locum in Philippi.
Mahfouz’s bail bid failed in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court and he took the matter on appeal to the Western Cape High Court.
This after he was found to be practising without being registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as required by the Health Professions Act 56 of 1974 – he had been erased from the register in 2015, the HPCSA confirmed.
According to court documents, the State alleged that Mahfouz wrongfully, unlawfully and with the intent to defraud, was working as a medical doctor authorised to practice, consult, examine patients, dispense medication and charging complainant fees of an unknown amount to the State.
The State contended that he had charged fees for his practise knowing that he was not a medical doctor authorised to practice medicine.
Mahfouz, in his sworn statement, vehemently denied his involvement in the crime he was accused of. He claimed he worked as a general administrator in the business in question, was responsible for record-keeping and following up on medical aid claims.
He disputed that he ever worked as a medical practitioner.
“He worked five days a week and earned between R50 000 to R60 000 monthly. He holds a PhD as his highest level of education. He has one previous conviction of fraud under case number 162/6/2018 and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment which was suspended for five years on condition that he did not commit similar offence during the period of suspension. He has no pending cases and no outstanding warrants,” court records read.
Judge Dumisani Lekhuleni said he agreed with the lower court’s decision: “The magistrate found that Mahfouz was likely to commit schedule 1 or other offences if released on bail. I see no fault in the magistrate’s finding on this matter.
“It is common cause that in 2018, the appellant was found guilty of two counts of fraud for practising as a medical practitioner despite not being registered with the HPCSA. He received a sentence of imprisonment, which was wholly suspended for five years on condition that he was not convicted of a similar offence during the period of suspension.
“In my view, there is a likelihood that if he is released on bail, he will stealthily continue his practice as an unregistered doctor, and this will endanger the safety of the public. To this end, the magistrate’s finding was spot on and cannot be faulted,” said Judge Lekhuleni.
In a statement announcing Mahfouz’s arrest earlier this year, the HPCSA urged registered practitioners to refrain from employing unregistered persons as this posed a serious risk to the health and lives of the unsuspecting public.
To verify a practitioner’s status, call the HPCSA Call Centre on 012 338 9300/1.