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‘You paraded and popularised impostor Mathew Lani’: Trade union Haitu lambastes ‘reckless’ Gauteng health department

Bust shot of a smiling man

'Dr Matthew Lani' claims to be a medical doctor, but Wits University, where he claims he studied, say they do not know him. Picture: Twitter

Published Oct 12, 2023


By working with the infamous “Doctor” Matthew Lani, who also claims to be Sanele Zingelwa, the Gauteng Department of Health exposed many unwitting South Africans to grave danger, the Health and Allied Workers Indaba Trade Union (Haitu) insists.

IOL reported earlier that last year, on June 16, 2022, the Gauteng Department of Health ran a campaign across its facilities as part of Youth Month commemorations, where young medical professionals were asked to send in their video clips on what it meant for them to be born-frees (born after 1994).

The provincial health department said Lani was one of the participants, “and this was the only time the department had ever worked with him”.

“At the time, there was nothing that raised suspicion that he was not a person in the employ of the (health) facility,” the Gauteng Department of Health said in a statement earlier this week.

Gauteng MEC for Health, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko. File Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

“In October 2022 Lani recorded a video complaining of non-payment as a medical intern at Helen Joseph Hospital. The complaint caught the attention of the department and was referred to the management of the hospital to look into the matter. Subsequently, Lani was contacted by the CEO and asked to present himself at the facility’s human resource unit to address his complaint.

“He then confirmed that his matter was receiving attention and even deleted the video he had posted on TikTok at the time as he felt it was drawing unnecessary attention,” according to the Gauteng Department of Health.

Authorities are also investigating how Lani would enter healthcare facilities and gather content for his multitude of social media followers, while masquerading as a medical doctor, appeared to be working inside hospitals.

However, Haitu general secretary Lerato Mthunzi said the Gauteng Department of Health was caught napping on the job.

Lerato Mthunzi, general secretary of the Health and Allied Workers Indaba Trade Union (Haitu). File Picture

“It is not just an issue of him filming (inside hospitals), even in their statement the (Gauteng) Department of Health by their own admission that they put him on their socials for June 16. He was paraded by the Department of Health as one of their young, shining, glory doctors. How can the department be that reckless?

“Secondly, the department said he (Lani) was complaining about non-payment at Helen Joseph Hospital and officials in that facility had to be put under unnecessary pressure to look into a matter that is non-existent. It takes me back, it is not about the parading only,” Mthunzi told broadcaster Newzroom Afrika on Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, the Gauteng Department of Education entered the fray - announcing that there is no record of a National Senior Certificate or matric certificate for the bogus social media “doctor” and influencer Matthew Bongani Lani.

Gauteng MEC for Education, Matome Chiloane. File Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

Lani has been masquerading on social media as a medical practitioner, offering medical advice to his more than 200,000 followers.

According to its spokesperson Steve Mabona, the department's official records indicate that Matthew Bongani Lani was initially enrolled at Bordeaux Primary School in Randburg in 2007.

“However, he was referred to Gresswold Learners with Special Educational Needs (LSEN) School in Kew, Johannesburg in January 2010,” Mabona said.

Mthunzi said the Gauteng government departments are “trying to play victims”.

“We are quick as a nation to just bash one individual and parade them, and the departments want to be seen as victims – they are not victims in this. They are supposed to be responsible in safeguarding the lives of our people and making sure the practice of nurses, doctors and all health professionals is safe. They failed dismally and their heads must roll,” said Mthunzi.

Lani’s popular TikTok account has been banned on the popular video App. The account had amassed almost 300,000 followers, with Lani’s likes sitting at three million.

Lani rose to fame on social media for dishing out “medical advice” to followers. However, he was outed by the University of Witwatersrand on Monday after the institution distanced itself from claims that he studied at the institution.

Investigations by the Gauteng Department of Health have revealed that the real Dr Sanele Zingelwa, which Lani claims is his real name, belongs to a second-year medical intern, Dr Sanele Sobani Vambai Zingelwa, who works at the Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital. The real Dr Zingelwa has also opened a case against Lani.