A report from the Sunday Times has revealed further details about the increasing implausibility that a woman from Thembisa ever gave birth to 10 babies this month, as reported by Pretoria News editor Piet Rampedi.
Rampedi has stuck to his guns and even gone so far as to claim that criticism of his reporting is a personal attack on him. His employer, Independent Media, has now started an investigation of his work amid a looming lawsuit from the state against it due to Rampedi alleging it has all been an official cover-up and conspiracy.
The Sunday Times has now reported that even the name of the woman in Rampedi’s front-page story was not correct and that she was actually born in 1972, making her 48 and turning 49 this year.
Rampedi initially reported her age as 37.
Although it is technically possible for some women to conceive and give birth in their 50s, fertility decreases steadily with age. Women giving birth after age 35 often require medical support and fertility treatments to carry their children to term safely.
A Gauteng government memorandum sent to the premier, which the Sunday Times had sight of, also reportedly revealed that the woman needing psychological counselling and had supposedly been suicidal.
‘I stand by my story’
Speaking to 702′s Clement Manyathela on Friday morning, Rampedi argued that he did not rely on hearsay in pursuing the story, as the woman’s family members and the “nonexistent” babies’ supposed father, Teboho Tsotetsi, had told him the woman was pregnant.
Rampedi said Sithole had also sent him pictures and her Google location from the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, Gauteng.
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The editor, however, could not say how he had verified that Sithole was pregnant and not perhaps just walking around with a pillow under her clothes, because he personally had not seen her stomach.
He said he had his own evidence he “cannot share at the moment” that would back up his story.
On Thursday, Rampedi claimed that the reason for the alleged cover-up of the extraordinary births is that his numerous investigative articles over the years had made him a target of the powers that be, especially President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government.
“I stand by my story. Ms Sithole was pregnant and gave birth to 10 babies on June 7, 2021. It’s a fact,” he wrote on IOL.
Rampedi pointed out he had in fact never apologised to his colleagues for having written the reports about Sithole’s pregnancy and decuplet delivery.
He said he only apologised to them for not treating the case as an investigative article and “because it was used by my detractors to impugn their professional integrity, thus affecting their reputations”.
He furthermore claimed media freedom itself was under attack.
It was reported on Wednesday that the Gauteng provincial government had opted to go the legal route against the Independent Media Group and Rampedi for the story.
The provincial government has maintained its stance that there is no record of the delivery of decuplets at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, as claimed, or any other health facility in the province.
It had “instructed the state attorney to institute legal action against Mr Rampedi and the Independent Group”.
Compiled by Charles Cilliers