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An astonishing 43 bogus doctors have been discovered to having been illegally practising in South Africa this year alone.

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) spokesperson Priscilla Sekhonyana said these illegal medical practitioners preyed on unsuspecting members of the public.

She said the majority of the bogus doctors had been found in the Western Cape and Gauteng.

There had been over 400 complaints against bogus doctors since the beginning of the year.

“We’re not just shutting down illegal practices - those who may be doctors but not registered - we’re also closing down practices of people who masquerade as health-care professionals,” she said.

Sekhonyana said there had been successful convictions, although the data was inconclusive about how many people had been sent to jail.

“We encourage the public to continue providing information to us about any suspected illegal practices in their area,” she said.

These doctors posed a risk to patients as they might give incorrect diagnoses, prescriptions and surgical procedures.

“The HPCSA has established the Inspectorate Office to deal with the issue of illegal practice by unregistered persons. This is working with law enforcement, the National Prosecuting Authority, other regulatory bodies and the public to identify bogus practitioners.

"The HPCSA also conducts awareness campaigns to educate members of the public to identify and report unregistered persons,” she said.

Sekhonyana said that if something went wrong with a patient, the HPCSA would have no jurisdiction to discipline unregistered doctors.

Illegal practitioners who were arrested in Gauteng came mainly from Ekurhuleni, where mostly foreign nationals were arrested.

This month Ghanaian Kumi Daniel was arrested in Duduza while running a surgery without being registered with the HPCSA. He had been working from Dr Ogbonnaya Orji’s practice on Mandela Drive.

Three allegedly fake doctors were nabbed in Springs, Ekurhuleni. They had been operating at the Palm Ridge Shopping Mall at the time.

A Congolese national, 46, who was also arrested, told the police he owned the practice.

At the same practice a Nigerian man, who had been drawing blood from a patient, claimed to be a qualified doctor, while his accomplice, 36, was dispensing medicine to patients.

Sekhonyana said there wasn’t any evidence that these practices were mainly operated by foreign nationals.

“The Inspectorate Office has also arrested bogus practitioners who are South African citizens,” she added.