The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) identified 18 fake doctors since the beginning of the year, had then arrested and shut down their surgeries.

Ten were men and eight women. Gauteng had the highest number of fake doctors, and 10 of the arrested fake doctors were foreign nationals.

Some of the fake doctors were found to have been operating from the surgeries of qualified and registered doctors. Those doctors have also been charged and are facing disciplinary action for having unregistered health professional working in their surgeries.

The latest fake doctor was recently arrested in Naturena, south of Johannesburg.

According to the HPCSA, Omonombe Lowambo, a Congolese national, was found practising as a medical practitioner while not registered with them. He was operating from the offices of a Dr Bielu, who is registered with them.

“Mr Lowambo indicated that he was employed by Dr Bielu. He was arrested for fraud and contravening Section 17(1) of the Health Professions Act, 56 of 1974 and detained at the Mondeor Police Station.

“Dr Bielu is actively registered with the HPCSA and he will be reported to the Medical and Dental Professions Board. According to the Health Professions Act, 56 of 1974, registered healthcare practitioners cannot employ unregistered persons who are not registered with Council.

“Practising whilst not registered with Council is a criminal offence.”

The HPCSA said it could not overemphasise the importance of practitioners registering with Council and the seriousness and risk that bogus practitioners pose on the innocent lives of the public.

“The HPCSA will continue to uphold its mandate of protecting the public and guiding the professions through ensuring enforcement and compliance from the healthcare practitioners in line with the provisions of the Health Professions Act.

“Members of the community are encouraged to continue to report all suspicious illegal practices by unregistered persons and welcomes tip-offs at any of our HPCSA offices across the country.”

Some of the people arrested include Sonnet-Mari Brand who allegedly opening two “surgeries” in Springs, Ekurhuleni practising as a specialist pulmonologist – despite not having a medical qualification.

It was also discovered she was working at the Far East Rand Hospital despite her lack of qualifications.

Vladimir Jovanovic was arrested also arrested this year at Dr Abram Behr Fait’s dental practice in Dunkeld West Centre where he had been practising as a dentist despite not being registered with the HPCSA.