Decuplet drama: Gauteng govt to take legal action vs Rampedi, Independent Media

The Gauteng government said that allegations made by Pretoria News editor Rampedi and Independent Media against the provincial government in connection with the alleged birth of 10 babies to a Tembisa woman sought to tarnish its image and it was therefore taking legal action.

Pretoria News editor Piet Rampedi. Picture: Twitter/@pietrampedi

JOHANNESBURG - The Gauteng government said it was deeply concerned by the conduct of the editor of the Pretoria News, Piet Rampedi, and Independent Media regarding the decuplets story and it had instructed the state attorney to take legal action against them.

This comes after the paper reported in early June that Gosiame Sithole had given birth to ten babies at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital and that the government was trying to cover up medical negligence.

The Gauteng government said in a statement on Wednesday that it had since been established that Sithole had not recently been pregnant or given birth.

It added that allegations made by Rampedi and Independent Media against the provincial government sought to tarnish its image and it was therefore taking legal action.

Spokesperson Thabo Masebe said Sithole had received medical help.

“She was admitted to the hospital for a 72-hour observation and after that, on the recommendation of the doctors, she was kept in hospital for a further seven days.”

The Gauteng government said it would continue to provide medical, psychological and social support to Sithole and provide her with any counselling she may require.

Earlier this week Rampedi wrote an apology to Independent Media group editor-in-chief Aneez Salie, saying that he could have handled the story better and that he should have used an investigative checklist.

READ: Decuplets: Editor Piet Rampedi says sorry, but insists there was a pregnancy

But this only came after the family of the man reported to be the father of the babies stated that they had concluded that the 10 babies did not exist.

Tebogo Tsotetsi's family said in a statement: “Tebogo confirmed that he has not seen the decuplets and relied on his girlfriend who called to inform him of their birth. He made several attempts to visit his girlfriend and the babies but she has failed to disclose her whereabouts and the condition of their babies.

“We call on members of the public to stop donating money into any bank accounts for the decuplets. We appreciate the public interests and support for the decuplets, and with no proof of their existence, we firmly believe it’s in the interests of everyone to conclude that they do not exist, until proven otherwise. We will now shift our attention to finding Gosiame Sithole whilst praying for her safe return,” the family statement added.

It then emerged that one of the women's family members had officially reported her missing at a local police station.

Eyewitness News also reported that it had learnt that Sithole had shown no signs of being pregnant or delivering a baby in the past two weeks.

In the email to his boss this week, Rampedi acknowledged the reputational damage the decuplets story had caused to colleagues and the entire group.

While he admitted to not applying basic journalism to verify aspects of the story, he maintained that the woman had been pregnant and gave birth.

“Even though I stand by the fact that Sithole was pregnant, some aspects of the story could have been dealt with differently. Could I have handled the story far much better? Definitely! Especially the verification process. Quite honestly, I never treated the decuplets story as an investigation at all. I used no investigative tool or checklist,” Rampedi's email read.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.