An alleged bogus doctor who has examined, prescribed medicine to and treated thousands of patients for years has been nabbed following an undercover investigation by The Citizen.
Mogaswa James Mathopa, 47, has allegedly never studied medicine, but practised as a doctor for more than a decade.
In 2010, the same “doctor” was convicted on three counts of fraud and one of contravening Section 22A of the Medicine and Related Substances Control Act 101 of 1965 for a similar crime.
According to court papers, he pleaded guilty, citing a lack of legal defence. The serial impostor was later fined R50 000 or three years in prison, with a further three years imprisonment suspended for five years on condition that he did not commit the same crime.
Despite previous convictions, it seems Mathopa reverted to his old tricks. Little did he know it, however, but he was on the radar of Crime Intelligence, which pounced on him on Friday.
The police raid at a Tlhabane surgery in Rustenburg, where the alleged fake doctor had been operating, left patients and laboratory messengers, there to collect and deliver blood samples, staggered.
The raid was conducted by the National Health Department’s medicines and related substances control unit, Crime Intelligence, and the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
A Mabeskraal village surgery that Mathopa used was shut down by the police. The Citizen spoke to a close friend of Mathopa, whose parents died two months after each other.
This was after they were allegedly treated by Mathopa. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the friend said: “For years, this man and I were very close.
“My parents took him as their own son, yet he treated them, gave them medication, injections, knowing he is not a doctor. I feel betrayed.”
Baffled, one of Mathopa’s longtime female patients said: “I built a good relationship with the doctor.
“My head is spinning. I don’t know what to say. I never thought this could happen. I feel stupid. I need a smoke.
“Are you telling me I have been showing my bum to a man who is not a doctor?
“He injected and did a pap smear on me.”
A community member, who joined Mathopa’s patients as they watched the scene unfold in disbelief and shock, confirmed he had been consulting the alleged bogus doctor for arthritis. When this reporter attempted to enter through the surgery door, Mathopa softly told me: “Please don’t come in, there’s a problem, come back tomorrow.
It was apparent he had not discerned that I was a patient in disguise. After the man’s arrest, police at the Tlhabane station were overheard saying they were also among Mathopa’s patients.
One policeman, a patient of Mathopa, said: “I wouldn’t have asked him to prove to me that he was a doctor.”
In Mathopa’s rooms were the files of many patients and expired and high-schedule medication. This was despite Mathopa allegedly not having a dispensary licence and being registered with the HPCSA.
Surgery owner Dr Seutane Seutane told The Citizen he employed Mathopa at his surgery in about 2010 as a locum.
He said Mathopa had produced a medical certificate from the University of Natal. Seutane claimed he was not aware Mathopa had previously been convicted for impersonating a doctor.
Mathopa is in police custody and is expected to appear in court today. He faces charges relating to fraud and the contravention of Section 22A of the Medicine and Related Substances Control Act 101 of 1965.
He will again appear in court on Tuesday on the same charges for another “surgery”.