Bogus neurosurgeon 'fooled system'
Pretoria - The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) has blamed itself for allowing a bogus neurosurgeon to practise at South African hospitals.
Qualified general practitioner Nyunyi Wambuyi Katumba did not meet the requirements for registration as a neurosurgeon, but was registered with the council, HPCSA president Sam Mokgokong told reporters in Pretoria.
"We are taking the blame on this one. The error lies within us. Dr Katumba cheated on our system," Mokgokong said.
"He initially applied in 2003 to be certified as a neurosurgeon in this country. He sat for the South African college examinations with other doctors and he failed."
Katumba, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, worked in South Africa as a specialist from June 2007.
Mokgokong said false information was submitted to the council in 2007, stating that Katumba had passed the necessary examinations.
He was subsequently registered in public service neurosurgery.
After serving for three years in the public service, and after obtaining South African permanent residence status, Katumba was registered as a specialist independent practice on July 9 last year.
He previously worked in Botswana and Zimbabwe and was fired in both countries.
In South Africa, he worked at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto and the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria.
He was fired from both institutions because of incompetence.
"This man was practising in the country after being registered. He had the required certificates to practise that we had given him," said Mokgokong.
Investigations were underway to determine who supplied the false information on behalf of Katumba.
Mokgokong confirmed that Katumba was a qualified doctor who had worked in the DRC.
No criminal charges had been laid against him, said HPCSA acting registrar Kgosi Letlape.
"We cannot be the ones running to the police and saying we registered this man while we were not supposed to have done so.
"He was practising in the country with the documents we gave him."
Katumba had been de-registered and the council was tightening up its systems to introduce double-checking, Mokgokong said.
Two former staff members had been implicated so far.
Qualifications of foreign qualified practitioners employed in the last 10 years would now be verified.
South Africa employs 400 foreign qualified general practitioners and 500 specialist doctors annually.