In this week’s episode on Special Assignment we investigate and expose an alleged organized crime syndicate of medical doctors, operating from the Lister Medical Centre in Johannesburg. Our four- month long investigation has uncovered disturbing practices by some qualified medical doctors, who sell their practice numbers in exchange for cash. Their registered numbers are then used by groups of fake doctors to ply their illicit trade under the guise that they are real doctors. This is an unlawful scheme that is putting patients’ lives in danger when they unknowingly consult with these alleged fake doctors. The Special Assignment team found unhygienic, clandestine, makeshift surgeries, operating under the guise of legitimate Health facilities. Equally sinister are the findings of a recent study conducted by Wits University that this criminal conduct appears to be rife in the South African Health Care System.

Participants in these illicit practices often do it with impunity because neither the Health Professionals Council nor the Health Department have laws to regulate them. With no proper legislation in place that will ensure greater compliance by doctors, a conduit has been created for syndicates of rogue doctors to exploit the loopholes in the system.  Our undercover footage exposes these alleged culprits posing as medical professionals, attending to patients, dispensing medicine and performing surgical procedures. Even though there has been some success by the authorities to arrest and shut down the illegal operations of clandestine clinics exposed in our investigation, it appears they are fighting a losing battle. This is because soon after the alleged kingpin of the bogus doctors’ syndicate was released on bail, the clinic that was previously closed down by the police was reopened for business.

In this programme we ask how safe are South Africans from being abused by illegitimate health professionals? Is the Health Ministry equipped to stop the unethical conduct of dishonest doctors?

In addition, why is our criminal justice system unable to completely close down these known illegal surgeries?

Watch “Dodgy Doctors” produced by Frank Ferro on Special Assignment – aired Sundays on SABC 3 at 20:30PM, repeated Mondays at 23:30PM.