Imposter doctor arrested as nation-wide crackdown on fake medics gains momentum

A man wearing white with handcuffs

The Health Professions Council of South Africa is appealing to community members to report suspected bogus medical practitioners. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 29, 2023


Pretoria – The nationwide crackdown on health-care practitioners operating illegally, launched by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is gaining momentum with arrests made in different parts of the country.

“The HPCSA’s inspectorate office, in a joint operation with members of the South African Police Service (SAPS), conducted an inspection in Kuruman, Northern Cape, where Mr Tshifata Katembwe, a Congolese national, was found practising as a medical practitioner while not registered with Council,” according to spokesperson Christopher Tsatsawane.

He said during the inspection, it was discovered that Katembwe has been working at a medical practice registered to one Dr TK Gopane since January 2022.

“Mr Katembwe was arrested for practising illegally and as a result he was in contravention of Section 17(1) of the Health Professions Act, 56 of 1974, and detained at the Kuruman SAPS.”

After his arrest, Katembwe appeared before the Kuruman Magistrate’s Court last week, and his case was postponed.

Tsatsawane said Dr Gopane is registered with the HPCSA Council as a medical practitioner, and will be reported to the Medical and Dental Professions Board for appointing an unregistered person, “thereby putting the health of unsuspecting members of the public at risk”.

In another incident, the HPCSA’s inspectorate office arrested a bogus medical practitioner who impersonated a registered practitioner and used her registration credentials to practise illegally.

“In April 2023, Dr Lesne Pucjlowski alerted the HPCSA that an unknown person used her details, including her name, identity number and registration number to secure a job in Cape Town.

“Upon discovering the fraud, the recruitment agency that facilitated the employment dismissed him (the bogus medical practitioner) and notified Dr Pucjlowski of the fraud,” Tsatsawane said.

The HPCSA’s inspectorate office in collaboration with a Joburg-based recruitment agency and the SAPS made a breakthrough and arrest the suspect.

The suspect was arrested after he was lured to an interview for another job placement. For that placement, the bogus doctor also applied, using Dr Pucjlowski’s information.

Detectives from the Douglasdale police station arrested the unsuspecting man when he arrived for the interview.

“Under interrogation, Mr Simba Koromani, a Zimbabwean citizen who had no valid passport, conceded that he was an impostor.

“A CV and a fake identity document, with his picture, but bearing Dr Pucjlowski’s details were found in his possession,” said Tsatsawane.

“Mr Koromani was arrested and detained at Douglasdale SAPS for fraud and contravention of Section 17 and Section 40 of the Health Professions Act, 56 of 1974.”

The HPCSA is mandated to protect the public and guide medical professions through enforcement and compliance from the practitioners in line with the provisions of the Health Professions Act.

“Members of the community are encouraged to continue reporting all suspected illegal practices by unregistered persons. Registered practitioners are encouraged to be careful and extra vigilant with their personal information, and to report all suspected illegal practices by unregistered persons,” Tsatsawane said.

“Members of the public can verify a practitioner’s status by calling the HPCSA call centre on 012 338 9300/1.”

The Health Professions Council of South Africa is a statutory body established under the Health Professions Act, 56 of 1974.

The HPCSA is mandated to regulate the health professions in the country in aspects pertaining to education, training and registration, professional conduct and ethical behaviour, ensuring Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and fostering compliance with health-care standards.

In order to safeguard the public and guide the professions, registration in terms of the Act is a prerequisite for practising any of the health professions registrable with the HPCSA.