New details in a government report on the South African mum who was believed to have given birth to 10 babies have revealed that she is 48 and not 37 as local media reported, and that her name was also given incorrectly.
The woman identified as Gosiame Thamara Sithole hit the headlines around the world after it was reported that she had given birth to decuplets in the South African capital Pretoria on 7th June.
According to a memo seen by the Sunday Times in South Africa, Sithole’s reported first names are incorrect, and her date of birth is 1972. Reports did not give her actual Christian names.
The memo was prepared by Thembeni Mhlongo, the Head of Department at the Gauteng Provincial Government, on 18th June, 11 days after Sithole was said to have given birth to decuplets.
The document was addressed to Gauteng premier David Makhura and officials of social development, health and community safety.
In the memo, it says that Sithole first contacted the social development department in 2017 when she asked for a social worker to help her while she was “heavily pregnant” with triplets.
She also said that she had twins aged two by a partner who died and that she no longer had a relationship with the father of the triplets.
A social worker was assigned to provide “psychosocial support” to Sithole, and later that year she told the official that she had found work and all her five children, the twins and the triplets, were being looked after by an aunt in the city of Soweto.
Sithole then contacted the social worker on 7th June this year to say that she had met a new boyfriend and this time had delivered 10 babies at a private hospital in Pretoria earlier that morning.
She also claimed that the babies were premature at 29 weeks and that her new partner, named by Pretoria News as Teboho Tsotetsi, was out of town “making business deals regarding the babies”.
According to the memo, the social worker went to visit Sithole in hospital and found her acting strangely and apparently “having suicidal thoughts”.
“Sithole said that she has found a sponsor for the delivery of her decuplets, and so far they have provided her and the babies with sufficient resources.”
The memo added that “wild untested allegations” by Independent Media Group caused serious harm to the government both at home and abroad.
According to Sunday Times, the Gauteng government has told the state attorney to take legal action against Independent Media Group over the handling of the news story.
When the decuplets could not be found, Piet Rampedi, journalist and editor at Pretoria News, who still stands by his Sithole pregnancy story, accused the authorities of a cover-up, adding there may have been medical negligence at play.
State government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said the social department is no longer searching for the 10 babies, but would work to check if Sithole’s triplets were registered on the system.
Masebe added: “They don’t exist (the decuplets). She was not pregnant recently and did not give birth to one, two or even 10 babies. We are now focusing our attention on what support can be provided to Ms Sithole and her two (confirmed) children through the department of social development.”
Iqbal Surve, executive chairman of Independent Media, said an independent panel would be set up to probe the handling of the story. The announcement was welcomed by the South African National Editors’ Forum.