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I’m always surprised by the South African news cycle. Events that are so incredibly ironic or ridiculous that they simultaneously shock and amuse happen so frequently.


A government-appointed investigation into a fatal fire that occurred at the Usimdiso building in the Johannesburg CBD this week had to be put on hold since the facility used for the investigation did not adhere to the city’s fire safety codes.

Therefore, the location of the investigation into building fire safety is not fire-safe. This isn’t something you make up.

The story of Thabo Bester’s jailbreak in Mangaung is so fantastical that it almost seems like fiction.

Once more, we are treated to the tale of fake physician Matthew Lani, who pretended to be a doctor on TikTok before being unmasked by users of social media.

This week, Lani made two bold attempts to enter Helen Joseph Hospital in order to produce content. Both times, security personnel caught her and turned her over to the authorities. Wearing a surgical mask and a SpongeBob hoodie for added flair, he had a stethoscope around his neck.

Whatever alias he may go by, Lani clearly has no regard for the system that he entered and thought he could get away with. He pretended to be a physician, gave medical advice, and made internet sales of “pharmaceuticals.” He was successful in deceiving his tens of thousands of followers, higher education institutions, media professionals, and health officials for a period. He promoted his story of being HIV positive and that he was the youngest licensed physician in the nation. He gave guidance on medicine.

This week, he was not charged with impersonating a doctor, and the case was not filed because there was insufficient evidence to support a successful prosecution.

“The problem is that the HPCSA (Health Profession Council of SA) didn’t press charges. The NPA is within its right to not press charges. Everything rests with them to protect the integrity of their profession. If the body you claim you belong to doesn’t act when you put them into disrepute, no one can do anything,” attorney Isaac Moselane told TimesLive.

The HPCSA is yet to respond to the withdrawal of charges.

The authority claims that it is making a lot of effort to take action against pretend physicians. A campaign led by the HPCSA and the police has resulted in the arrest of 124 imposters nationwide over the past three years, with 55 of those arrests taking place in the last 24 months.

According to Lani’s attorneys, he was producing entertainment-oriented content rather than pretending to be a doctor. Lani conducted an odd unscheduled press conference in front of the courthouse.

The public’s lack of trust in and disregard for this broken system is evident in the entire charade. His act is predicated on the idea that he won’t be discovered and that there won’t be any consequences. The fact that, despite being revealed as a scam many weeks prior, he went back to the Helen Joseph Hospital not once, but twice, indicates that something is wrong with the system. How on earth does he still get away with this?

It’s a technology that makes it possible for extraction networks, like the one at Tembisa Hospital, to withdraw millions of rand from it. This technique resulted in the shooting death of a watchful finance official who attempted to expose the mafia. It’s a system whose inefficiencies are continually made clear.

In a similar vein, the Thabo Bester story represented a sign of a broken correctional services system. Bester was so brash as to try to imagine a plan where he used a coffin, a dead body, and the mistaken idea that he would get away with it to escape from prison. Yes, he did. He was able to continue his scams while living on the outside for a few months. He managed to operate a worldwide marketing firm from within a maximum-security jail.

Frequently, it takes a single, high-profile example to bring attention to an entire system, appropriately focus public attention, and hasten government or professional office bearers’ responses.

Regarding Matthew Lani, the medical community, government health officials, and law enforcement must make sure he is held accountable and restrained so he can no longer be a laughingstock for the system and public trust can be rebuilt.