My doctor, the gardener

By admin
18 February 2011

He may have fooled enough people in high places to be appointed as a doctor at BJ Vorster Hospital in Kareedouw but his patients soon realised “Dr” Valentine Chike Zulu didn’t even know where the appendix is.

The Nigerian and several of his countrymen who apparently also practised as doctors in South Africa despite having no medical qualifications have now been arrested. It’s said one is actually a gardener and another is a messenger.

They’re alleged to be part of a syndicate in which two Nigerian doctors used bogus doctors to run additional practices.

Some apparently even performed surgery, says Colonel McIntosh Polela, spokesman for the Hawks who were part of the raid on the illegal operation. Possible deaths among their patients are being investigated.

The much-talked-about raid once again raises questions about patient safety. After all, if the guy with the stethoscope and white coat isn’t who he pretends to be he can’t be trusted with your life.

The Hawks are baffled by how Zulu managed to get a job at the Eastern Cape hospital, Colonel Polela says.

According to their information his qualification is false, even though he’s apparently registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), which has joined the SA Medical Association in warning the public about the extent of the problem of bogus doctors.

Patients began complaining about Zulu soon after his appointment at BJ Vorster Hospital last April, Francois Strydom says. Strydom resigned from the board of the hospital because he had doubts about the way the institution was being managed.

Women told him they’d rather be ill than have Zulu examine them and there were complaints about the way he conducted examinations and how he made patients wait even longer because he said he was entitled to his rest. There were also issues about his sloppiness and public behaviour.

“He caused trouble in pubs by forcing his attention on single women. His unprofessional conduct suggested to me he couldn’t be a medic. I insisted his CV, medical registration, citizenship and qualifications be investigated. I put tough questions to the hospital management: where do they get these people who call themselves doctors?”

He was accused of prejudice and his questions were never answered, Strydom says.

He says a woman told him Zulu and a colleague could not find her appendix when they operated on her so they closed her up and sent her to Livingstone Hospital for further treatment.

Other claims regarding Zulu, which were aired in an Eastern Cape newspaper, include that he misdiagnosed a woman with ulcers as having cancer of the womb.

The syndicate apparently operated for three years before the Hawks cracked down in response to a tip-off from an informant.

“We estimate hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been through the alleged bogus doctors’ hands. And they were mostly poor. ”

Read more about the case and how to protect your family in YOU, 24 February 2011.

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