Still no children. Mom and Dad? Well, they seem as confused as the articles dropping in the media.
On the 8th of June, Gosiame Thamara Sithole made headlines when she supposedly gave birth to 10 babies. This was a first and it seemed as though Sithole had broken the Guinness World Record. That sounded so exciting, and as a Tembisan myself I was so happy that my township will be known for something other than crime, poverty and unemployment.
This story caught the attention of many and is even trending on Twitter to date, but there is one small matter. Where are the babies?
I can understand why culturally it could be taboo for a mother of newborn babies to be on camera and to allow people into her home. What’s baffling the most is the lack of records and reliable sources that confirm the existence of the children. It doesn’t help that there is so much secrecy surrounding the birth of the decuplets. I mean if it was meant to be a secret, why break such a major story and then expect people not to ask for a follow-up? That is just asking too much.
Well here is everything we know for sure about the Tembisa 10 as they’ve come to be known.
- On June 8th, Pretoria News broke a story about Sithole who they said broke the Guinness World Record for birthing 10 babies.
- Excitement grew around the birth of the children, however, many noticed a missing link to the story. The most obvious was where were the babies born and why was the doctor who birthed the kids not saying anything about this phenomenon?
- Phumla Williams, Director-General of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) was unable to locate and verify whether or not the babies were born and are alive. Additionally, no public or private hospital housed a mother of 10 babies.
- Mzwandile Masina, Mayor of Ekurhuleni then tweeted confirming that the babies do exist. However, the Gauteng government still couldn’t confirm the birth of the decuplets.
- Tebogo Tsotetsi, father of the decuplets then filed a missing person case with the SAPS and asked the public to stop sending money into their bank accounts until Sithole comes home.
Just as we were trying to make sense of the pieces of this puzzle, Piet Rampedi, editor of Pretoria News and the journalist who wrote the exclusive on the Tembisa 10 has changed his tune. He is now also investigating the very same story he broke, asking the questions he should have asked himself and the family before the story broke not only in local but exploding onto international platforms as well.
Then there was the latest twist to the saga on Tuesday. The family of Tebogo Tsotetsi, father of the decuplets sent out a statement on Tuesday saying they have never seen the newborn decuplets. They also apologised for the inconvenience and embarrassment. The statement also makes us aware that the father has never seen the children and has no idea of where the mother is. A missing person case has been opened as no one can locate her.
If anything, the Tembisa 10 story should serve as a lesson and reminder to journalists all over the world that it is important to fact check. It is also very important to thoroughly investigate and engage credible sources. Misinformation is the biggest disservice we can do for the community we serve, vigilance is key.