PMB doc’s ‘global ties’ doctored

2016-06-30 13:28
The fake image Dr Ashveer Ramsunder admitted to creating and posting on his Facebook page. In this image, Ramsunder said he was with his mentor and friend Oprah Winfrey.

The fake image Dr Ashveer Ramsunder admitted to creating and posting on his Facebook page. In this image, Ramsunder said he was with his mentor and friend Oprah Winfrey. (Supplied )

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Pietermaritzburg - A Pietermaritzburg doctor who claimed he was friends with a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and a global talkshow legend, has admitted to lying to boost his image.

Dr Ashveer Ramsunder, who is listed as a district general practitioner with the Department of Health, added his image to those of Malala Yousafzai and Oprah Winfrey to promote a campaign to help Syrian child refugees.

Ramsunder yesterday admitted to digitally manipulating images he found on the Internet, but claimed that his efforts to help Syrian refugees were genuine.

Ramsunder’s friends and Facebook followers cried foul after they discovered the pictures had been faked.

His followers have since lashed out against him, questioning the authenticity of his humanitarian work for Syrian children, especially as Ramsunder had asked for funds to help the refugees.

Ramsunder admitted to The Witness yesterday that he had altered the pictures and that he had never met Oprah or Malala.

However, he said he had not received any donations from the public and his request for help for the ­children in Syria was “genuine”.

“I was not out to scam or dupe anybody. My intentions were to generate funds for Syria, and yes my pictures were fake, but they were just pictures for ­Facebook purposes.

“It was very stupid on my part … I guess I just wanted people to think I was a high roller,” he said when asked why he had manipulated the images.

Ramsunder’s friend, who asked to remain ­anonymous, said at first he was proud of his friend, but “that was short-lived”.

“It is all good and well creating the false impression of fame and altruism; however, our biggest concern was whether the donations he requested were ­legitimately going to their named causes. How does one trust someone who has based his image on a lie?” said the friend in an e-mail to The Witness.

He said the fake pictures had “increased his ­[Ramsunder’s] credibility as a humanitarian and also provided him with some degree of status”.

Accepting what he had said in good faith, Weekend Witness assisted Ramsunder last month by publishing an article on his intended humanitarian work in Syria. At that time, Ramsunder said he was touched after receiving a call for help from a Syrian man who is using soccer as a tool to help Syrian children ­devastated by war.

He was publicly outed last week when some of his followers posted the original pictures of Oprah and Malala on his Facebook page, clearly showing that they had been altered.

He has since deactivated his Facebook accounts.

After his article appeared in Weekend Witness, Ramsunder posted on his Facebook page that he had been invited to the Oprah Winfrey Academy last month, and had had a “Skype dinner” with Malala. He also posted pictures of his name branded on a Ferrari and a helicopter at the Oprah Winfrey Academy.

He admitted yesterday that he was not invited to the academy, but had “only visited” and “did ­nothing” at the academy while he was there. He said he did not own a helicopter or a Ferrari, and admitted those pictures were also digitally manipulated.

“I know this portrays me in a negative light and I understand that lots of people are hurt by it. I did not use anybody’s funds but my own, and was not trying to solicit money from people,” he said.

Ramsunder insisted he had not received money from the public following his appeal and said The Witness was welcome to peruse his bank statements.

“Certain pictures were created for the purposes of Facebook, but everything else was done out of ­goodwill and to help others,” he said.

Ramsunder also said he had approached Gift of the Givers to facilitate matters so the donations could reach the organisations in Syria, “but they said they could not help me”.

Ramsunder said he had approached the Alexandra Road police station to open a case after his followers ­exposed him on Facebook, as he believed he was being “publicly attacked”.

However, he said, the police did not open a case, instead asking him to detail his allegations in a statement.

Ramsunder said he wanted to apologise to his friends and followers, “but my intentions were good”.

He and his lawyer promised to send The Witness a further statement yesterday, but none was received by the time of going to print.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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