Wits University on Monday said TikTokker and alleged doctor Matthew Lani did not graduate from their institution, while the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) said such a person was not a registered health practitioner.
The social media personality, who is apparently aged 24, went viral on Monday after allegations he may not be authentic.
Recently, his real identity was questioned and Lani, also known as Matthew Bongani Lani, said he used a different name on social media than he did professionally.
In a TikTok video he said his real surname is Zingelwa.
According to his LinkedIn account, his real name is Matthew Sanele Zingelwa. On his videos, he was at times spotted wearing surgical scrubs and a badge with S Zingelwa on it.
His account states he obtained a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery MBBS degree from Wits University where he studied from 2014 to 2021. He also states he sells Future Life health products and is a content creator.
Wits University spokesperson Shirona Patel said: “Wits University is obliged to set the public record straight after claims made by ‘Dr Matthew Lani’ on various social media platforms.
“Based on the names presented to the institution and the facts on hand, the university cannot find any person who graduated by the name of Matthew Bongani Zingelwa or Sanele Zingelwa in recent years. We request ‘Dr Matthew Lani’ to retract such claims immediately,” she said.
Wits offers a six-year full-time MBBCh degree. An MBBS degree is conferred in other countries such as Pakistan and India.
Not sure if you're following this Dr Matthew story?
A social media "influenza" is claiming to be a Doctor. He's 22 years old and apparently finished Matric" at 16 after skipping Grades 4, 6 and 8. He says that he finished Medical School at the age of 21.
He also says his name… pic.twitter.com/s6KvmAkY2b
— Brent Lindeque (@BrentLindeque) October 9, 2023
The HPCSA online register showed there is a Lani Sanele Zingelwa registered as an intern in the public sector from January 2022 to March 31 2024 and is registered with the council as a student.
However, the HPCSA said there is no-one by the name of Matthew Zingelwa-Lani on their register of health practitioners.
Spokesperson Priscilla Sekhonyana said the Health Professions Act requires all professionals to register with the council and keep personal information up to date.
“Practising while not registered with the council is a criminal offence,” she said.
In a response to the allegations, Lani said on his TikTok account on Monday: “My employer is aware that my name on social media is different to my legal name and I am in compliance with the social media guidelines of the HPCSA. So, as long as my employer, as long as I am in compliance with the necessary authority, so be it. I am not going to be complying to black twitter.”
Sekhonyana said the HPCSA was concerned about the video and claims made by Lani.
“The HPCSA puts it on record that no authorisation has been granted to Mr Zingelwa-Lani to make statements on behalf of the council stating he is a registered practitioner,” she said.
Lani told his followers on Monday it was his birthday but he woke up to calls about him trending on social media. He rolled his eyes when he saw the allegations.
“The reason for that reaction is it’s not the first time. It’s really not the first time. I have been down this road before. I have made videos, I have shown receipts. I have been addressing this matter and it’s getting to a point where it’s exhausting and falling on deaf ears.”
The Gauteng health department is yet to comment, but it has previously praised Lani. They have since deleted a tweet from Youth Day of Lani, referred to as an intern at Helen Joseph Hospital, who shared what the holiday meant to him. The video is, however, still on the department’s Facebook page.
Dr Matthew addressing Twitter noise. With a stethoscope on in the car. pic.twitter.com/aw4Cu5oEQr
— Jason Nomoa (@1992sFinest) October 9, 2023
Lani, who is also an HIV/Aids activist, has previously defended his qualifications, telling his followers he is not obliged to share his practice number on social media.
“I don’t owe anybody to put my actual credentials here. People need to understand that just because I am on TikTok giving generalised information, it does not mean you are my patients. Only my patients can come to me and say ‘can I please have your practice number, I want to verify you’. By law, I am required to do that. But you can’t walk up to me in the streets and ask me for my practice number. For what? Why?” Lani said.