The 'real story' behind the #Tembisa10: What Independent Media’s investigation revealed

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The Tembisa 10 story has taken an interesting turn as Independent Media investigate the whereabouts of the babies.
The Tembisa 10 story has taken an interesting turn as Independent Media investigate the whereabouts of the babies.
Photo taken in Bangalore, India

It was a story that rocked the country. First there were reports of a Thembisa woman giving birth to 10 babies. While the country was celebrating that, suddenly the babies vanished. 

No one knew where they were, which hospital they were born in or how they were doing. 

Pretoria News editor Piet Rampedi broke the story and reported that Gosiame Sithole had given birth to 10 children, breaking an international record.

Before long, after an investigation, the government said the ‘Tembisa 10’ were never born and that Sithole was never pregnant.

Piet issued an apology to Independent Media and his colleagues, but he maintained that his story was true. Independent Media instituted an internal investigation into the matter and held a press conference detailing what their investigation has found.

Chairperson Dr Iqbal Surve revealed that Independent Media will be releasing a 10-episode series into their investigation sharing audio, text messages and communication between doctors, nurses, social workers and the state.

“We discovered information that required further investigations. Independent Media will air a 10-episode series looking into the mother of the Tembisa 10, the doctors and hospital CEO, social workers and politicians," Dr Surve said.

“There are many villains in this story from doctors, nurses, social workers, police and there also heroines in this story that put their lives in danger. Many have been threatened and almost killed.”

According to Dr Surve, the story of Gosiame is a story of a vulnerable black woman who was taken advantage of by people in power.

“The story of Sithole is the story of a woman taken advantage of by doctors, nurses, social workers and others. We have the responsibility of telling the truth of her story. Her story is currently going on with 100’s of other vulnerable black women in hospitals in South Africa today.”

According to their investigation Gosiame gave birth to 10 babies and two of them died.

“7 June she contacted the Nigerian doctor with two names, she told him she was having abdominal pains. She went to Steve Biko at 4:30 pm. At 6pm she was induced by this doctor, Ms Sithole was taken to another doctor at a private hospital in Tembisa where she had a C-section, and something went wrong, and she was brought to Tembisa Hospital. There were 8 babies in the womb and two babies in the tube and two babies died during birth. She gave birth to 10 babies.”

Their report also revealed that she was advised to give the babies up for adoption and this was said by the multiple doctors at the multiple hospitals she attended.

Read more | Tembisa 10: 'Up to them what they do with the report', says advocate who led probe into alleged fake story

“Independent Media is committed to making sure that the government is held to account so that we clean up the system. The series will show you the involvement of people through records. We were threatened legally by the government should we continue to publish our findings. We ignored all of it.”

Advocate Michael Donen SC chaired the media house's external inquiry into the debacle.

This is what the investigation found, according to Independent Media:

  • She was pregnant, and she was diagnosed at Steve Biko hospital with six babies. In January she was taken to another hospital to a sponsored doctor who promised to help her give birth at a private hospital. The scan there showed she had eight babies.
  • On 6 June 2021, as the pregnancy grew, she found it difficult to go to the hospital as the taxi’s couldn’t take her. Piet Rampedi would take her to the hospitals.
  • 7 June she contacted the Nigerian doctor with two names, she told him she had abdominal pains. She went to Steve Biko at 4:30 pm. At 6pm she was induced by this doctor, Ms Sithole was taken to another doctor at a private hospital in Tembisa where she had a C-section, and something went wrong, and she was brought to Tembisa hospital. There were 8 babies in the womb and two babies in the Fallopian tube. The two babies died during birth. 
  • When the babies allegedly got to Steve Biko Hospital, there were not enough incubators.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
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