On Tuesday, news broke that the father of the controversial birth of ten babies to alleged mother, Gosiame Sithole, was fake. Sithole, however, has spoken up for the first time in response to alleged father, Tebogo Tsotetsi’s statement.
The Tsotetsi family released a statement saying that the alleged father had not seen the babies and was relying on Sithole for information.
He told News24, that “he does not believe his girlfriend, Gosiame Sithole had ever given birth to 10 babies.”
Read also: Confirmed: #Tembisa10 are not real
Sithole told Pretoria News in an interview that everything said by Tebogo Tsotetsi, is fake.
The interview was shared by Pretoria News editor, Piet Rampedi, the original source of the story that said Sithole had given birth to “10 babies,” reports News24.
“I’m hurting. Everything they [the Tsotetsi family] said about me is incorrect. They are unfair. They are doing things to abuse me,” said the alleged mother.
It is reported that the alleged mother sat with her hands tucked in her brown puffer jacket and did not show signs of having recently given birth.
This story is getting thinner and thinner. I feel for this poor woman. Police must open a fraud case. https://t.co/Qiot5eTAhm
— Mandy Wiener (@MandyWiener) June 14, 2021
“The current uncertainties and public discourse about the decuplets is of major concern to the family, especially in the absence of any proof of the decuplets existence other than telephonic and WhatsApp messages from the mother,” the Tsotetsi family statement said.
Sithole reportedly disputed this.
“I feel that they never loved me, and I was forcing myself on them. They want to gain financially through my children (10 babies). I don’t know why they are after me.
“Are they sure that I have never given birth? I am going to do what makes me happy.
“They want what is mine [babies]. They are not sure about what they are saying, and they are talking for the sake of talking.
“I’m not going to do as they wish. Their wish will never happen. I will never make them happy,” she added.
The alleged mother of ten then went on to claim that the Tsotetsi family are involved for a pay cheque, wanting to make millions through her ten children.
“They were expecting to be wealthy through donations. No one will force me to reveal where my [10 babies] are. I will reveal their location in my own time, and no one is going to force me to tell where they are,” she added.
What about the hospital?
While Mediclinic denied being involved with the birth, Steve Biko Academic Hospital CEO, Dr Mathabo Mathebula did say that they tried to offer support to the alleged mother after she and her sister showed up at the hospital on Saturday night looking for the ten babies.
“She didn’t want to be admitted; she just wanted to see and take care of her children,” said the CEO.
The hospital agreed that she could come back on Monday. However, she didn’t return.
“She didn’t show up, but we are still in contact with her. We want to give her and her children support. We are now looking at her as someone who needs help. We are just not sure what type of help.”
Since the news of the #Tembisa10 first broke, South Africa (and the world) has been led astray with conflicting reports, statements and information.
The past week alone has seen government departments, hospitals and social workers refute the story. The alleged father, Tebogo Tsotetsi, has released statements both confirming and denying the births, and hospitals have denied and admitted to even seeing Sithole at all.
Doubling down! https://t.co/E8r47i3RAJ
— Mandy Wiener (@MandyWiener) June 15, 2021
As well as this, a missing persons report was filed for Gosiame Sithole’s whereabouts, however, the Gauteng social development department released a statement, stating that Sithole was not missing.
Meanwhile, the entire debacle has thrown the integrity of journalism under the bus, with the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) saying it was outraged by the “complete collapse” of journalistic ethics and standards in the reporting by Independent Media.
There are many lessons in this for journalism that require introspection and reflection. But… it is also a lesson for the public to be more discerning. Red flags were up immediately and those of us who dared question were abused and berated for doubting.
— Mandy Wiener (@MandyWiener) June 15, 2021
Independent Media’s chairperson, Dr Iqbal Survé, announced the media house’s support of the “extremely special babies.” His family foundation, Survé Philanthropies, committed at least R1 million to the family, to be paid over a period of four year to ensure sufficient care.
“[Piet] Rampedi interviewed the couple, Gosiame Sithole and Teboho Tsotetsi, at their home in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni, a month before the story was published and uncritically reported their version of events about the birth, without verifying the facts with the hospital or doctors involved, as required by the Press Code of South Africa.
“The code states very clearly that journalists ‘must take care to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly’,” the Sanef body said.
As per Sanef, Rampedi and Independent Media continued to report the story without the basic facts being confirmed or established (despite the many gaps in the story). The name of the hispital was also not provided in reports.
“On 14 June, Rampedi and Independent Media, after sustained attempts by the rest of the country, the government and other journalists to verify the story, changed tact and started to blame Sithole, the woman, claiming she had disappeared and was not responding to messages from Tsotetsi, the alleged father.
“It is now clear that Rampedi never saw the babies or had proof of their birth, but solely relied on WhatsApp messages between Sithole and Tsotetsi to report as fact that they were born. This is reckless and irresponsible journalism of the highest order,” it said.
“This entire episode ranks as one of the lowest points in the history of South African journalism. The failure of Rampedi and Independent Media to do basic fact-checking and verify grandiose statements before publication have undermined and damaged the entire journalistic profession,” the body added.
The forum has called on the management of Independent Media to urgently institute an independent inquiry, led by an expert in media ethics, to investigate how this story was investigated, reported and responded to by Rampedi and his colleagues.