A legal expert in social media law has issued a cautionary statement in the wake of the Matthew Lani case, who managed to escape prosecution by the National Prosecuting Authority for misrepresenting qualifications online as a doctor for an extended period.
EWN reports that The recent saga involving Matthew Lani, who falsely portrayed himself as a doctor on social media for years, may have seen him evade prosecution. But it is a stark reminder that such actions could have legal consequences.
Lana’s impersonation of a doctor included sharing images of himself in medical attire and at various healthcare facilities, ultimately leading to his exposure as a fraud.
He was arrested on charges of impersonation at Helen Joseph Hospital. However, he was released without being charged, as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) cited insufficient evidence.
Social media law expert Megan Harrington-Johnson emphasised that this case does not condone dishonesty regarding academic qualifications on social media platforms.
Harrington-Johnson pointed out that legal avenues are available to address individuals who misrepresent themselves on social media, including South Africa’s National Qualifications Framework Act, which criminalises false claims about qualifications.
In the context of the medical field, the Health Professions Act can also hold those falsely portraying themselves as medical practitioners liable for fines or imprisonment.
Her advice to content creators is clear: always be completely honest about your qualifications to avoid potential legal repercussions.
Furthermore, she highlighted that any interested party can bring forth fraud cases against individuals online, and these cases can lead to investigations when numerous individuals feel wronged by misrepresentations.
In the Matthew Lani case, the National Prosecuting Authority revealed that ongoing investigations are underway, and Harrington-Johnson stressed that the matter not being enrolled on the day does not preclude potential charges proceeding in the future.
Picture: joy_zelda & Am_Blujay
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