“Doctor – your money or your life”

How tsotsis are robbing Soweto doctors

Everson Luhanga

In almost all of the 30 attacks on Soweto doctors recently, the thugs come to a clinic pretending to be sick.

Dr Linda Chivhuho, a director of the Soweto Independent Practitioners Association (Soipa), said that while a fake patient is being attended to by a doctor in a consulting room, other suspects enter the clinic also pretending to be sick.

They hold up all the people waiting in the surgery at gunpoint.

They then proceed to the consulting room.

The fake patient then stands up and produces a firearm, shouting at the doctor to comply with their demands.

The attackers demand cash, the transfer of money through online banking, medicines, jewels, and anything of value on the premises.

“We now have to use our instincts to screen who is legit and who is faking. Our work hasn’t been nice this year,” Chivhuho said.

During level five lockdown, the incidents of robberies decreased.

But with level three, the robbers have come back and there have been more attacks.

Dr Thulani McDonalds Tshabalala in Protea Glen  

Dr Thulani McDonalds Tshabalala from Protea Glen Ext 3 is one of the victims of a gun toting attacker pretending to be gravely ill.

She said that on 17 June 2020 about four thugs robbed the clinic and patients of money and cell phones.

This is what he says happened:

  • A man entered the practice and asked the price of a cash consultation. I explained our charges. He then left claiming that he didn’t have enough money and would be back
  • The fake patient came back an hour later with two more guys
  • I was dispensing medication for another patient when they arrived. The fake patient came directly up to me and said he was going to shoot me
  • I didn’t realise that we were being robbed and I ignored him and continued with my patient. But soon, I heard a commotion and shouting in the corridor. The other two armed thugs held my colleague at gunpoint. They were pushing everyone towards the doctor’s office
  • They searched everyone, taking everything of any value they came across

Dr Vusimuzi Nhlapo in Jabulani

Dr Nhlapo in Jabulani lives with a mark from a bullet fired into his hand during an attack. He says

  • On 26 February the surgery was attacked and robbed by three thugs pretending to be sick
  • Three criminals – all with guns – entered the surgery pretending to be patients 
  • The men held everyone at gunpoint
  • “We were all terrified including patients who came to seek help on the day.” 
  • During the robbery one of the men pulled a trigger, shooting the doctor on the hand
  • He (Dr Nhlapo) fired back: “When I saw that things were getting ugly, I also fired some shots back at them”
  • “The men left the surgery after realising that I was also armed”
  • The thugs pushed patients in the waiting room into a consulting room, and robbed them and staff members of valuables

Dr Nhlanhla Mabaso – Dobsonville

On Friday 17 July two men came to Dr Nhlanhla Mabaso’s practice pretending to be clients.

Dr Mabaso said although he was not there at the time of the robbery, the doctor on duty told him that the men were very aggressive.

The duty doctor said that they asked about consultation fees and closing time.

  • Later on, they “came back guns blazing and aggressive. They threatened everyone in the clinic pointing firearms at them”
  • They locked patients in a room at the back of the surgery in the dental section. “They took money and cell phones from patients and staff
  • “They stole from everyone who was there”

Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo confirmed that police are aware of the attacks on the doctors in Soweto. He said police have arrested some suspects linked to some of these attacks.