Suspected Ugandan conman posed as doctor to make money out of ‘health related conferences’

Oryema Johnson

Oryema Johnson

One of the Former members of Ugandans At Heart (UAH), Oryema Johnson(OJ), is in the spot light for the wrong reasons. Events reported have shocked us as we have received reliable information that he has been posing as a doctor to talk his way into health related conferences organised in different countries, in an incident labelled “unethical” by the Society for the Advancement of Science in Africa (SASA).

In a statement attached below and released on May 15, 2013 by SASA spokesman, the man known by the names Oryema Johnson on UAH and in Canada where he lives,’ misrepresented himself (including his qualifications), as well as SASA, on several occasions prior to the conference. One example is that he made numerous empty promises of full travel and subsistence support to various SASA Listserv members for their attendance at the inaugural meeting of SASA in Polokwane.’’

The latest conference was in South Africa and it was indeed communicated on UAH by one of our members, Prof Ocan Otim.

The Oxford dictionary defines a con man as either ‘a person who swindles another by means of a confidence trick or ‘ a plausible character’. A confidence trick is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their confidence.

What should surprise us instead is the eager readiness of individuals, even highly educated ones, to surrender themselves to the conmen of this kind. Con men thrive under the garb of qualifications when people stop making enquiries.

One of our members who prefers to remain anonymous but knows Oryema very well said: ’’……….. I have known OJ for many years and needless to say was once also a victim of his. OJ is a crook and a typical scam artist who masquerades as a ‘Dr’ Oryema Johnson. Fact is, this man doesn’t have a single degree. He was a student at Queen’s University in Canada but got expelled for playing dirty games with the university’s letter heads to solicit funds. Among many things he often uses to rip people off has been a series of conferences where he announces calls for papers and asks would be participants to register by a certain date. Twist is that once these nice conference tile and call and location at a luxurious venue reaches people and is from a certain “Dr” Oryema people are known to actually register by sending him money. Problem is that shortly before the conference date he writes back to people who have paid saying the conference has been cancelled due to reasons beyond control but now he has eaten their money already with a disclaimer on the invitation letter than cancellation before a certain date will not be refunded. He has done this a lot of times. But the events in SA took a huge bite out of him as many people world over – esp. academics whom he had earlier for years conned off as being a Dr. Nobody knows what kind of Dr he is. He claims to be a specialist in Telehealth but doesn’t know a thing about Telehealth.’’

‘So to cut a long story short, the SASA group heard and confirmed he was paperless academically and needless to say many of these intellectuals and academics were very offended and mad that he has been conning them. At the SASA conference he had the audacity to show up but was not well received and since only the committee knew then that he wasn’t welcome they kept the issue up to the end when they finally called a special meeting to kick him out and send out a circular to warn people about him………….. I am more afraid of my Ugandans sisters and brothers falling victim since he does the same to Ugandans. Its time Ugandans are also made aware of this animal. Such people must be exposed in order to teach other crooks what they may as well be headed to.

‘He had it rough in South Africa as the whole population of academics globally whom he has been misrepresenting himself to got to know they were duped all along.’

Apparently, there are more victims but we don’t want to tell you their stories here till we have established enough details.

UAH management

May 15, 2013

Dear SASA Listserv Members,

We regret to announce that, at the inaugural meeting of SASA in Polokwane (April 23-28, 2013), the interim leadership of SASA had the unenviable task of dealing with one among us who brought the name of SASA into disrepute through seriously unethical behaviour. SASA has taken a firm stand in order also to establish, from the outset, a zero tolerance policy for confirmed unethical conduct.

We now must inform you that SASA has formally distanced itself from Mr. Oryema Johnson. We realize that this may come as a shock to those among us who may not be aware of the details.

Mr. Johnson misrepresented himself (including his qualifications), as well as SASA, on several occasions prior to the conference. One example is that he made numerous empty promises of full travel and subsistence support to various SASA Listserv members for their attendance at the inaugural meeting of SASA in Polokwane.

Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that this behaviour is not new with regard to Mr. Johnson. We thank those who came, and continue to come, forward with evidence to confirm the experiences of the Local Organizing Committee in acts of dishonesty and misrepresentation. SASA extends its regrets that promises of any kind made by Mr. Johnson cannot be expected to be honoured.

The Interim Executive Committee continues to receive emails from people linked to SASA, or aware of the existence of SASA, about Mr. Johnson’s unethical conduct with regard to SASA, as well as in other organisations. It is as a result of this evidence against Mr. Johnson, that we, as the SASA Interim Executive Committee, have been forced to distance ourselves (i.e., SASA) from him. Please note that now that SASA has been inaugurated and is able to move forward as a new organization, it is only the Interim Executive Committee that represents SASA.

SASA, as an organisation, has grown past what has been a most unfortunate experience, particularly in its infancy, and so we ask that you do NOT continue the discussion about Mr. Johnson on the Listserv unnecessarily. So many of us have already, out of respect for due process, devoted much time to the matter. But, with every cloud having a silver lining, this has been a sobering, albeit a sad lesson for us.

If anyone has any questions or would like to provide us with more information and examples about Mr. Johnson’s conduct, please do not hesitate to contact the following members of the Interim Executive Committee:

Joachim Kapalanga

Sam Lanfranco

Colin Soskolne

Philip Venter

We thank you for your continued support of SASA. Now that this most unfortunate episode is behind us, we can all look forward to a future of good experiences in fulfilling SASA’s mission: Pushing the Frontiers of Science in Africa.

Kindest Regards,

Kathrine Theron
Director of Administration
On behalf of the Interim Executive Committee
Society for the Advancement of Science in Africa (SASA)


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