Pretoria - Decuplets mother Gosiame Sithole gave birth at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital on Monday last week, but the whereabouts and state of her babies remain a mystery.
An investigation by Independent Media, assisted by a private investigator, has uncovered that the woman who made international headlines when she gave birth to 10 children was admitted to the government-owned hospital in Pretoria earlier that day and delivered her babies. It’s unclear what happened to the babies and what their state of health is.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Independent Media, which initiated a private investigation into the birth of the decuplets following denials by government officials, said the story was not fake news but a cover-up of mammoth proportions.
The Pretoria News reported on the birth of the decuplets on Monday last week. Various government officials immediately denied the story, saying the state had no records of such births. They included Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS) chief executive Phuma Williams; Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe; Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi; and Steve Biko Hospital chief executive Dr Mathabo Mathebula.
However, sources told the Pretoria News the denials were part of a campaign to cover up medical negligence that involved senior politicians and public servants including Premier David Makhura, Mokgethi and Mathebula. They likened it to the Life Esidimeni scandal.
While senior politicians and government officials claimed the story was a hoax, an investigation by Independent Media has uncovered the following:
On Monday June 7, Ms Sithole was admitted to Steve Biko Academic Hospital. She arrived at the hospital shortly after 3pm. She was seen at the maternity ward of the hospital. She delivered 10 babies – seven boys and three girls.
Doctors, who had been expecting eight babies, were surprised by the delivery of 10.
Sithole delivered five babies by natural birth and had to undergo a Caesarean section for the delivery of the other five. The hospital did not have enough functional incubators at the time of Sithole’s birth.
Nurses told Sithole the babies had been taken to the intensive-care unit (ICU). A nurse told Sithole on Tuesday that there were complications with her babies.
Sithole, who was dizzy and still weak, could not fully comprehend the information. She later moved to the mothers’ (or lodge) section of the hospital where parents of stillborn children recuperate. When she regained her composure, she went to the ICU and demanded to see her children.
However, she was denied access and threatened with arrest and referral to a psychiatric hospital.
On Saturday, a staff member called her sister and told her to collect Sithole.
The sister arranged an Uber which took Sithole to her place in Rabie Ridge, Midrand.
The hospital did not have, or put in place, a clear operational plan for Sithole’s birth. The doctors who helped Sithole deliver have gone to ground and have been unreachable since Tuesday.
Nurses and doctors were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements barring them from disclosing information about Sithole’s delivery and the babies.
Steve Biko staff have repeatedly called Sithole since Saturday begging her to return to the hospital as part of a plot to lock her up and paint her as a mental case.
Sources at Steve Biko confirmed there were babies in the ICU named Sithole and that the mother had been in the lodge’s section at Steve Biko, which is only for mothers who have given birth.
Sithole confirmed during an interview this week that she indeed gave birth at Steve Biko.
Approached for comment on Wednesday night, Mokgethi said she was in church but would look at the questions sent and reply to them.
“Dear ma’am. Please contact Gauteng Department of Health, Gauteng Department of Social Development and SAPS,” Mathebula said in a text message.
On Wednesday night, Independent Media released the findings of its investigation into the decuplets matter.
Insisting that the government’s denial was a cover-up of mammoth proportions, the media organisation demanded that the government come clean about Sithole’s babies and their state of health.
“We can confirm that Ms Sithole was transferred to the lodge’s section on Thursday. She was not provided with food, except for bread and tea in the mornings. She was provided with no medical or psychological assistance.
“This information is corroborated by several independent sources, including staff at Steve Biko Academic Hospital. Independent Media will present all such evidence and our records to law enforcement officials if requested to do so.
“Considering our findings, Independent Media calls for an urgent investigation into the actions and statements of the chief executive of Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Dr Mathebula; the Gauteng provincial government and the Gauteng Health MEC, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, with respect to the birth of the decuplets. We would like answers from Dr Mathebula, Gauteng Premier Mr David Makhura and Ms Mokgethi,” said Independent Media.
It has slated its competitors and sections of the public for using the story to wage a campaign against it.
“Instead of being a cause for celebration, however, it has resulted in an orchestrated campaign to discredit the story, the mother of the decuplets, Ms Sithole, the Pretoria News editor Piet Rampedi, as well as Independent Media and its chairperson, Dr Iqbal Survé, with claims that the story is ‘fake news’. It is not and we stand by our story.”