“It has now been established by medical practitioners that [Gosiame Thamara] Sithole did not give birth to any babies in recent times. It has also been established that she was not pregnant in recent times,” read the statement from the Gauteng health department on Wednesday.
The provincial government said that it would continue to give medical, psychological and social support to Sithole, the 37-year-old woman who Independent Media claimed had given birth to 10 babies early this month. Counselling would also be provided to her.
“None of the hospitals in the province, public and private, had any records of such births at their facilities,” the statement added.
The Pretoria News reported on June 7 that a record-breaking 10 babies were born to Sithole, sparking local and global media interest.
But government said it had no record of the births.
After an investigation and attempts to find Sithole who at some point had been reported missing, social workers found her. “And upon completing their [department of social development] preliminary examination on Monday, her doctors recommended that she be kept at the hospital for seven days for further observation, in accordance with the Mental Health Care Act.
“The provincial government has instructed the State Attorney to institute legal action against [Piet] Rampedi and the Independent Group,” the statement added.
After weeks of standing by his story, in an email seen by City Press the Pretoria News editor Rampedi this week apologised to Independent Media’s editor in chief, Aneez Salie.
“I am sorry for the reputational damage the aftermath of the story has caused for the group, the company and my colleagues in general. I am fully aware that the story, and the general response, put all my colleagues in an awkward position and under immense public pressure,” Rampedi wrote.
Rampedi said he could have dealt with the story much better.
“Quite honestly, I never treated the decuplets story as an investigation at all. I used no investigative tool or checklist.”
“We want them to retract the unfortunate allegations made against the government,” spokesperson Thabo Masebe told News24.
Masebe said if the media company belonged to the SA Press Council, it would have taken that route instead.