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Man Who Posed as Doctor Gets 18-Year Prison Sentence

May 20, 1992 GMT

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ A high school dropout who posed as a pediatrician, treating several babies who died, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

″This must surely be the mother of all frauds,″ Judge Eugene van Rensburg said Tuesday in announcing the sentence against Andre Esterhuizen, 41.

Esterhuizen was convicted in September of three counts of culpable homicide, impersonating a doctor and defrauding patients.

At his trial, he admitted posing as a pediatricion from 1982 to 1990 in a Johannesburg suburb, treating thousands of patients.

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″I am sorry about everything,″ he said at his trial. ″To the parents of the babies who died - I am sorry. I did not mean to harm them.″

The mother of one of the victims called the sentence too short.

″Esterhuizen is a con man who deserves to be put away for life,″ said June Veal, whose 3-month-old son died while in Esterhuizen’s care.

Esterhuizen had an extremely high IQ and said he studied medical books for years. He told a pediatrician he was a doctor and began working with the man. Later, Esterhuizen established his own practice.