Since news of the so-called decuplets broke out on June 8, it has been widely reported by local, continental and global news outlets citing it as a world record.
But there was a problem – there were no pictures or proof of birth for the children who had become known as ‘Tembisa 10’ – a nickname for the area they were supposedly born in.
Rampedi who is editor of Pretoria News, the outlet that broke the story, wrote an apology to his editor-in-chief and colleagues at Independent Media for failing to do due diligence in covering the story.
He insisted that the mother involved, Sithole Thamara Goisame, was indeed pregnant and had given birth but that failing to treat the story as an investigative one but a ‘feel good, celebratory’ one was the center of his failure.
Rampedi wrote in part: “To be blunt, the story provided detractors with an opportunity to cast aspersions on the professional integrity of not only myself, but also my colleagues in the group.
“For that, I am extremely sorry. It was unfortunate. And I would like to apologize to you, my colleagues and the group,” he said.
On the point about cross-checking facts and doing better due diligence, he noted: “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 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,” read the email.
The department of health in Gauteng Province where the birth took place issued a statement denying that any healthcare outfit had records of any such birth.
Subsequently, there was a media back and forth between the mother and the kid’s father resulting in the father asking that public donations be halted because he had yet to see the mother and babies after she gave birth.
If it had been true, Goisame would have broken the world record of nine babies at one birth currently held by Malian Halima Cisse who delivered her children few months ago in a Moroccan hospital.