Dr Matthew Lani, a bogus TikTok doctor who routinely sports a stethoscope around his neck and who has carved a niche for himself dispensing medical advice and medical content to his over 280,000 followers, could find himself in hot water with authorities after Wits University distanced itself from him.
The popular so-called TikTok doctor ‘Dr Matthew Lani’, 27, who claims to have studied medicine at the university, has been misrepresenting himself as a doctor and has also apparently been seen in scrubs at one of Gauteng’s public hospitals.
The university has called on ‘Dr Matthew Lani’ to retract any and all references he made linking him with the university.
‘Dr Matthew Lani’s’ LinkedIn profile claims he studied medicine (MBBS) at Wits between 2014 and 2021.
Wits does not offer an MBBS degree, but it does offer a MBBCh degree.
Doctors who studied around the time have taken to social media to say they did not know him.
‘Dr Matthew Lani’ uses the alias doc.matthew and “Dr Matthew MD” on TikTok, a platform that has garnered him over 283,000 followers, and his videos have been liked over 2.8 million times.
Wits University said in a statement that they did not know who “Dr Matthew Lani” was.
“Wits University is obliged to set the public record straight following claims made by ‘Dr Matthew Lani’ on various social media platforms.
“Based on the names presented to the institution and the facts on hand, the university cannot find any person who graduated by the name of Matthew Bongani Zingelwa or Sanele Zingelwa in recent years. We are requesting ‘Dr Matthew Lani’ to retract any such claim with immediate effect,” the university said.
The Stellenbosch Municipality also said Lani had never worked for them, as claimed.
“We'd like to state for the record that Dr Matthew Lani, aka Matthew Bongani Zingelwa, aka Sanele Zingelwa, has never worked here,” they tweeted.
The Gauteng Health Department has also deleted a post in which it featured the alleged imposter during a promotional campaign on June 16 last year.
In that video post, ‘Dr Matthew Lani' claimed to be a medical intern at the Helen Joseph Hospital, which is one of the provincial hospitals. He was also described as an HIV/Aids activist.
He has also previously been given platform on the SABC’s Radio 2000 as recently as a fortnight ago.
Social media users also allege ‘Dr Matthew Lani’ has been dispensing medical advice on his platform as well as selling products in the medical field. In one video, he is seen recommending deodorant for persistently smelly underarms and products to deal with bad skin, and he is seen sporting a stethoscope around his neck routinely in videos.
Lani also has videos related to HIV education pinned on his profile.
In a response on TikTok addressing the matter, Lani said it was not the first time he was under attack and that he had been repeatedly fighting the allegations, but they resurfaced.
“People will be negative for the sake of being negative. Despite there being videos where I am addressing this matter, people are ignoring it because right now they are having fun with the negativity.
“My employer is aware that my name on social media is different to my legal name, and I am in compliance with the social media guidelines of the HPCSA.
“I am not going to be compliant to black twitter... To people asking me how I am, I am perfectly fine,” he said.
According to the HPCSA Act, it is a crime to practice medicine without registration with the body in South Africa.
The Health Professionals Council of South Africa has distanced itself from ‘Dr Matthew Lani’, adding that practising medicine without a license was a criminal offence.
“The HPCSA will work with law enforcement authorities to respond to the increasing number of bogus practitioners,” they said.
** This story has been updated.