The Department of Health in Gauteng has opened a criminal case against one Matthew Lani claiming to be a certified medical doctor and giving out medical advice via the popular app, TikTok.
Dr Matthew Lani’ trended on social media after the University of Witwatersrand stated that Lani never obtained any medical qualifications from its institution.
In a statement on Monday, the provincial Department of Health said a case of impersonating a medical doctor was registered at the Brixton police station.
“Lani managed to weave his way into the system, pretending to be in the employ of Helen Joseph Hospital, where he moved around the hospital corridors curating content for social media,” the department said.
Further investigations by the department revealed that Dr Sanele Zingelwa, which Lani claims is his real name, belongs to a second-year medical intern at the Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital.
“The real Dr Sanele Sobani Vambai Zingelwa has since opened a case of identity fraud at the Tembisa police station.
Meanwhile, the Health Professions Council of SA says the name Matthew Zingelwa-Lani does not appear on the country’s register of health practitioners.
In a statement on Monday, the council further distanced itself from “Dr Zingelwa-Lani’s” claim that he was making statements on the HPCSA’s behalf.
The HPCSA’s Christopher Tsatsawane said it never authorised the 27-year-old to make statements on its behalf.
He added that practicing without registration with the council was a criminal offence.
Tsatsawane explained that in terms of Section 40 of the Act, any person who is not registered in respect of any health profession, but (a) pretends to be so registered in respect of such profession; or (b) uses any name, title, description, or symbol indicating or calculated to lead persons to infer that he or she is the holder of any qualification which by rule under this Act is recognized by the relevant professional board as acceptable for registration in respect of such profession, but of which qualification he or she is not the holder; or (c) uses any name declared by regulation to be a name which may not be used, shall be guilty of an offence and, on conviction, liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, or to both a fine and such imprisonment.
“The HPCSA will work with law enforcement agencies to respond to the increasing number of bogus practitioners as their behaviour puts the health of the public at risk,” he said.
The council’s statement comes just hours after the University of the Witwatersrand called “Dr Zingelwa-Lani” to retract any and all references he made linking him with the university.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he claims that he studied medicine (MBBS) at Wits between 2014 and 2021.
However, Wits does not offer an MBBS degree, but it does offer a MBBCh degree.
The TikTok doctor, who routinely sports a stethoscope around his neck and who has carved a niche for himself dispensing medical advice and medical content to his over 280,000 followers, did not study at its institution.
He has also apparently been seen in scrubs at one of Gauteng’s public hospitals.
The Stellenbosch Municipality also said Lani had never worked for them, as claimed.
“We’d like to state for the record that Dr Matthew Lani, aka Matthew Bongani Zingelwa, aka Sanele Zingelwa, has never worked here,” they tweeted.