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Killer doctor on the run

Portia Mlilo
WANTED: Dr. Rowland

Help us find Dr. Rowland

A purported Neuro Surgeon Specialist, Dr. Thabo Rowland, is a wanted man.

At least 25 people are looking for Dr. Rowland for allegedly botching back operations before he closed his clinic at Gaborone Private Hospital (GPH) and disappeared, leaving patients with excruciating pain from an electric device he inserted in their stomachs.

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Speaking in an interview this week, one of Rowland’s victims, Margaret Morapedi, said, “The implantation was done two years back and, since then, I have been depending on painkillers, but when the pain becomes unbearable, I go to Princess Marina Hospital. Marina has referred me to another private hospital but the doctors are scared to remove this device, yet I have been burning inside ever since it was implanted. I was admitted with another patient who lost her life and I am afraid I might be next. Dr Rowland never consulted me about this. He only told me about the back surgery and the next thing he gave me was a remote control, which he said was to monitor the stimulator inside my tummy in order to control pain. I want this removed, but where is he now? I just wish the Ministry of Health and Princess Marina Hospital would treat this as an urgent matter.”

Another victim of the controversial surgeon is David Kiberu, who was referred by Princess Marina Hospital to GPH for a back problem only to be injured by Dr. Rowland with his device. “He performed back surgery and implanted what he said was a ‘spinal cord stimulator to relieve the pain’,” said Kiberu.


“The surgery was done on the 28th of January, on my birthday, and after that I started experiencing a burning sensation inside. When I complained about it, the doctor said I was hallucinating. I was discharged on the 9th of February and, two days later, I was back at Princess Marina Hospital emergency section. The doctors called him to explain about the stimulator and he said he would get back to them but never answered the phone. When I asked the doctors to remove the stimulator, they said the doctor who inserted it would have to do it but he was nowhere to be found. I consulted another doctor in South Africa and he, too, did not want to take the risk of removing it, so I’m stuck with it,” lamented Kiberu.

Meanwhile, one of Dr Rowland’s patient has not been so lucky.

Nurse Rale Tekeletso died a year and three months after the doctor had implanted the spinal cord stimulator in her back.

Describing the torture that her mom had to endure from the day of the operation in March last year until her death this year in June, Tekeletso’s grieving daughter, Ingrid Corbett, said, “My mother’s condition worsened until she died on the 19th of June. Postmortem report shows that she died of failed back surgery.”

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DECEASED: Tekeletso

Corbett further noted that sometime in September, she took her mother to Dr Rowland and they agreed to remove the stimulator, but two months later when the mother went for a check-up, the doctor inserted it back.

“We took mama to a different private doctor in Francistown, who did a scan and told us she had an infection after surgery. It was painful to see my mother struggling to sleep and crying and begging us to tell the doctor to remove the stimulator. In May, we went to Gaborone Private Hospital where my mother was operated on and we were told Dr Rowland was no longer working there and his phone was off. We went back and, the following month, she passed on. The stimulator was removed by the pathology doctor. We do not know where to go because even Marina management who referred her to the doctor are saying they don’t know his whereabouts,” said Corbett.

At the time of going to press on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health Public Relations Office could not provide any clarity on the matter as they were still conducting some investigations.

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