Tembisa Ten and the Tafelsig Four

Furthermore, why did Survé, as a newspaper owner who has publicly committed himself to ethical journalism, remain silent about the original ‘exoneration’ articles authored by them which were manifestly not true and which were telling examples of fake news to which Sekunjalo Independent Media is...

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The Tembisa Ten and the Tafelsig Four

Survé said Independent Media’s Investigations Editor, Sizwe Dlamini, would lead a separate investigation.

“His task is to independently verify the facts pertaining to the decuplets story. Piet Rampedi will not be involved in any manner with this investigation,” Survé said.

Tembisa 10: Independent Media launches external inquiry IOL  25/6/2021

Independent Media has appointed veteran anti-apartheid lawyer, advocate and acting judge Michael Donen SC to chair its external inquiry into the Tembisa decuplets story.

However, Pretoria News editor Piet Rampedi, who exclusively broke the story, maintains that Sithole was pregnant with multiple babies, and believes his story still holds.

Advocate Michael Donen to chair external inquiry into Tembisa decuplets story IOL 16/7/2021

On 7 September Die Burger carried photos of quadruplets – the Tafelsig Four -born ten weeks prematurely in Cape Town’s Groote Schuur Hospital on 1 September.

The 7th of September also happened to be the date when the ‘Tembisa Ten’ allegedly became three months old – but we have yet to see any photographs of them.

According to the editor of the Pretoria News, Piet Rampedi, the‘Guinness Book of Records’ decuplets were born on 7 June

We now know that the alleged mother in this story is 48 years old, so the chances of her giving birth at all are somewhat limited and, of giving birth to ten babies, impossible in terms of current medical science.

All hospitals cited in Rampedi’s articles say the babies do not exist, but Survé, a qualified doctor, says he is standing by the disgraced ‘Rogue Unit brothel’ reporter who left the Sunday Times  under a cloud and was subsequently cited in Anton Harber’s recent book as having aided and abetted the disgraced Tom Moyane in eviscerating SARS of its most able executives and is currently under investigation in this regard.

Million rand

Survé, a self-professed philanthropist is known to invest in causes he believes in and, although he has not donated a cent to the Covid-19 Solidarity Fund – unlike those who are regularly pilloried in his newspapers such as Johann Rupert, the Oppenheimer family and Naspers –  he did fly the initially-alleged father of the alleged but still-elusive ‘Tembisa Ten’ to Cape Town for a photo opportunity and the promise of a million rand for family support.

When the mother of the ‘Tembisa Ten’ was medically examined, there were no indications that she had given birth recently and the alleged father then said he could find no evidence that the babies existed:

“The family has resolved and concluded there are no decuplets born between Tebogo Tsotetsi and Gosiame Sithole, until proven otherwise, and wishes to apologise for any inconvenience and embarrassment.”

 And then, instead of producing the babies, Rampedi and Sekunjalo Independent Media demanded that the government verify their story!

When Iqbal Survé’s newspapers carried the headline Independent Media demands health department come clean about Tembisa decuplets, stands by Piet Rampedi , the department’s response was that none of the hospitals cited in Rampedi’s articles –see  here and here – could find any trace of these children:

“Given the magnitude of the allegations, we invite Independent Media, which has insinuated wrongdoing on the part of health professionals and government, to assist Ms Sithole to pursue a complaint with the health ombudsman for the alleged mistreatment of the patient at any health facility.”

 Perhaps unsurprisingly there has been no indication that Survé or Rampedi has responded to this obvious opportunity to establish the truth and, in the meantime, we wait and wait and wait for the investigative conclusions of advocate Michael Donen SC.

And when Zapiro lampooned Rampedi and the man Rampedi admires, the ‘Tembisa Ten’ reporter’s Twitter Response was ‘It will end in tears @zapiro’.

But the only tears in evidence so far are the tears of laughter streaming down the cheeks of South Africans as they watch the latest Nandos advertisement – about the ‘Ekurhuleni 11’ and the aptly-named and very affordable ‘Prego’.

Alleged birth

So, if photographs can be published one week after the Tafelsig Four were born ten weeks prematurely at Cape Town’s Groote Schuur Hospital, why have we still not seen photographs of the ‘Tembisa Ten’ three months after their alleged birth?

Why, eleven weeks after Sekunjalo Independent Media’s top investigative reporter, Sizwe Dlamini was specifically appointed by his employer, a medical doctor himself, has he produced no evidence of the ‘Tembisa Ten’ despite the following social media assurance from Piet Rampedi?

SA, I am a credible and reliable journalist who has NEVER lied to you. So is Independent Media. We will not start today. We are dealing with something bigger here. A grand conspiracy. A cover up. Unprecedented stuff.
REST ASSURED. TRUST US. WE WILL NEVER DISAPPOINT YOU. 
#Sithole https://t.co/OQcSzQaH8q

— Mr Putin (@pietrampedi) June 16, 2021

Why, almost two months after he was appointed, has respected human rights lawyer and acting judge, advocate Michael Donen, not taken the public into his confidence about the existence or otherwise of the ‘Tembisa Ten’, a matter brought afresh into the public domain by the Nandos advertisement?

Donen must surely be investigating the deeply disturbing allegations made by Iqbal Survé’s newspapers about the purportedly brutal treatment of 48-year-old Gosiame Sithole by Gauteng hospital staff.

Here is what Survé himself said in this regard on his Twitter feed – IQBAL SURVÉ (@IqbalSurve) / Twitter:

  • 18 June: Independent will continue to fight for the rights of this mother. This abuse by the state can happen to anyone in the future if we don’t stop it now.
  • 18 June: It is a disgrace that other media houses are ignoring her fundamental rights in terms of our constitution and the terrible way in which this mother has been abused by government in health and social development.

Here’s what his newspapers claimed about the ‘mistreatment of a broken mom’:

Suffering mental torture, starvation and being handcuffed have been the order of the day for Gosiame Sithole following accusations that she had lied about giving birth to 10 babies and that she has ’’gone crazy’’.

Ntombi Nkosi IOL 18/6/2021

The hospital staff and medical authorities in Gauteng were accused by Piet Rampedi of a ‘mammoth cover up’.

If true, these allegations point to the physical and mental victimisation of an obviously vulnerable woman. Why have we not heard from her or her lawyer,  Refiloe Mokoena, since Sithole was allegedly taken into protective custody three months ago? What became of Mokoena’s threatened court interdict in this regard?

Could it be possible, given the history of the company since 2013 – see here and here and here and here and here – that the Sekunjalo Independent Media accounts of Gosiame Sithole’s maltreatment are not true and that our medical fraternity has been unjustifiably vilified?

How much longer?

In the face of investigative reporter Sizwe Dlamini’s ten-week failure to show us the babies, we await advocate Donen’s media conference – but for how much longer must we wait?

In any case, it’s an open question whether Sizwe Dlamini’s ‘Tembisa Ten’ report-back – if and when he produces it – would find any traction in the court of public opinion because his credibility would seem to be suspect.

He and Adri Senekal de Wet and Ayanda Mdluli authored  several articles claiming that the Mpati Commission report had exonerated Iqbal Survé and Dan Matjila – see here and here and here and here and here.

It didn’t as the most cursory reading of the damning report reveals – see here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

Their employer then threw them under the bus by telling parliament that he is going to take the report by the ‘racist’ Mpati Commission on judicial review. If the Mpati Commission exonerated Survé as Dlamini and Mdluli and De Wet repeatedly claimed, why would he want to take the Commission’s report on judicial review, trashing their ‘exoneration’ claims and their hopes of being respected as plausible journalists in the process?

Furthermore, why did Survé, as a newspaper owner who has publicly committed himself to ethical journalism, remain silent about the original ‘exoneration’ articles authored by them which were manifestly not true and which were telling examples of fake news to which Sekunjalo Independent Media is allegedly opposed?

After all, as Sekunjalo itself said after the fake news article  was published in the Sunday Independent about Luthuli House being auctioned:

Independent Media safeguards its integrity and will not publish news that is not firmly corroborated by our journalists.

Furthermore we expect our journalists, including freelance journalists, to have the highest ethical standards and to at all times ensure that    the news reported is accurate and is able to withstand scrutiny, so that our readers have confidence in both our print and online publications.

In preparing his report, advocate Donen will hopefully take cognisance of what Iqbal Survé said in February 2013 to Mandy de Waal during a Daily Maverick interview.

The news had just broken in Dublin that Survé had taken control of the biggest group of English newspapers in South Africa with the help of a Chinese consortium  and his closing remark in the interview – so tangible a manifestation of his passionate commitment to ethical journalism – lives on:

“If you know anything about me you know that I operate with incredible integrity.”

The floor is yours, advocate Donen – it goes without saying that this is a matter of profound local and international public interest with billions of rands at stake.

Hopefully an advisory will be issued prior to this media conference because reporters around the world would want to be alerted in advance about the potential denouement in what – unjustifiably or otherwise – has come to be regarded as South Africa’s fake news story of this century – and the last.

As I finish this article the news has just broken on the Naspers-owned News 24 website that one of the Tafelsig Four has died.

This illustrates how medically fraught the situation is when multiple births of premature babies occur and this death makes all the more urgent the call to advocate  and acting judge Michael Donen – show us the ‘Tembisa Ten’ babies.

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