The net closed in on the so-called ‘Dr Matthew Lani’, with the Gauteng Health Department opening a criminal case against him. The well-known influencer, who portrays himself as a doctor on social media, found himself in hot water during the week when the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) publicly refuted his claims of having graduated from the institution.
The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) also confirmed that he was not registered on its database. ‘Lani’ claimed that his real name was Sanele Zingelwa, which, as it turned out, was actually the name of a second-year medical intern at Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital. The medical intern apparently opened a case of identity fraud against him.
Furthermore, the department also opened a case of impersonating a medical doctor against him with the Brixton police. Spokesperson Motalatale Modiba stated, ‘The opening of a criminal case against Lani is in line with the Health Professions Act, Act No. 56 of 1974 as amended, which states that practising whilst not registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa is a criminal offence and that any person who 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 of which they are not shall be guilty of an offence.’
This case of impersonation and identity fraud has raised concerns about the credibility of social media influencers and the potential harm they can cause by misleading the public. Driven by the desire for fame and recognition, individuals like ‘Dr Matthew Lani’ exploit the trust placed in healthcare professionals and manipulate their online presence to gain followers and endorsements.
It is crucial for the public to exercise caution when consuming information from social media influencers, especially in the field of healthcare. Verifying the credentials and qualifications of individuals claiming to be medical professionals is essential to ensure the safety and well-being of the public.
The incident involving ‘Dr Matthew Lani’ serves as a reminder of the importance of regulatory bodies like the HPCSA and the role they play in upholding professional standards and protecting the public from fraudulent individuals. The HPCSA database serves as a reliable resource for verifying the registration and qualifications of healthcare professionals.
Additionally, this case highlights the need for stricter regulations and monitoring of social media influencers, particularly those operating in sensitive fields such as healthcare. Collaborative efforts between regulatory bodies, social media platforms, and law enforcement agencies are necessary to prevent similar incidents in the future.
In conclusion, the impersonation of ‘Dr Matthew Lani’ not only exposes the individual behind the deception but also raises broader concerns about the integrity of social media influencers and the potential harm they can cause. This case serves as a reminder for the public to exercise caution and verify the credentials of individuals claiming to be medical professionals. It also emphasizes the importance of regulatory bodies in upholding professional standards and protecting the public from fraudulent practices.