By Tamlyn Canham
UPDATE: The Tsotetsi family has issued a statement about the alleged birth of the Tembisa 10. More details can be found at the end of this post.
A week after news broke that a Gauteng woman gave birth to 10 babies, South Africans are yet to see the decuplets and have more questions than answers.
According to several reports, Gosiame Thamara Sithole gave birth to the babies at a hospital in Pretoria. The record-breaking birth earned her a Guinness World Record title.
Sithole’s story made headlines all over the world. But excitement soon turned to confusion when government officials appeared clueless about the birth.
Officials took a few days to track down the woman. That is when things start to get a bit confusing.
Where are the babies?
Sithole, and the father of the babies, Tebogo Tsotetsi, did not share any pictures of the children. The Tembisa couple told Pretoria News that they did not want to show their faces for safety and cultural reasons.
— Pretoria News (@pretorianews) June 10, 2021
Government can’t find the babies
South Africans soon learned that health officials had no idea that a local woman had given birth to 10 babies.
Officials appealed for help tracking down the woman.
“Government has noted media reports and social media posts alleging that a South African woman has given birth to 10 babies and reportedly broken the world record.
“The posts attribute the birth of the babies to Gosiame Thamara Sithole from Gauteng,” Phumla Williams, spokesperson in the Presidency, said.
According to one report, Gauteng’s Social Development Department confirmed that the babies were born, but later made an about-turn, saying it would only confirm the exact number when officials meet with the mother.
“As the department, we confirm that the mother has been a client of ours since 2016. However, due to an agreement with the family, the mother and her babies are in a place of safety to give her time to bond with the children and for her body to heal,” spokesperson Feziwe Ndwayana was quoted as saying.
— Thulani Ndaba (@tndaba) June 9, 2021
South Africans unite for a national baby shower
Scores of people and businesses came together to donate food, money and clothes to the parents. Survé Philanthropies reportedly donated R1 million to help the ‘Tembia 10’ over a period of time.
— Caramel Papi 🦁 (@JusCallMeWill) June 8, 2021
More confusion about the babies’ birth
Several hospitals have confirmed that the ‘Tembisa 10’ were not born at their facilities. Gauteng officials could not find any record of the babies being born.
“Unless if they were born in the air, we checked both private and public hospitals and no-one knows about the case. Another question is, where are the obstetricians who delivered the babies and the paediatrician who is looking after them? No-one is coming forward,” a spokesperson told TimesLIVE.
Meanwhile, Sithole first told Pretoria News that the seven boys and three girls were born naturally, but Tsotetsi later clarified that they were born via C-section.
Is Tsotetsi married to another woman?
Just when South Africans thought the story couldn’t get any crazier, a woman claiming to be Tsotetsi’s real wife spoke out. Sibongile Gxekwa told News24 that she started seeing Tsotetsi when she was 15.
She says they have three children together and produced pictures as proof of their relationship. Gxekwa says Tsotetsi started “secretly” meeting with Sithole behind last year.
Decuplets, mom ‘missing’
Sithole’s family allegedly opened a missing person’s case with Tembisa South police last week Thursday, after she allegedly went missing. But she reportedly turned up at Steve Biko Academic Hospital on Saturday in search of her babies.
The hospital’s CEO, Dr Mathabo Mathebula, told News24 that Sithole told staff members that she gave birth at Louis Pasteur Hospital.
The babies, she allegedly claimed, were then transferred to Steve Biko Hospital. Mathebula told the publication that they called Louis Pasteur hospital but management denied the babies were born there.
The couple had originally told Pretoria News that Sithole gave birth at Mediclinic Medforum Hospital. But the facility has no record of the birth.
— lebogang Mahlangu (@LeboGMahlangu) June 15, 2021
Calls to stop donations
Tsotetsi has reportedly asked people to stop donating money until further notice.
“I appreciate the financial support that we have been getting from members of the public, but I also would like to appeal to the public to stop making money deposits into our accounts until members of the community have seen the babies,” Tsotetsi told Pretoria News in a WhatsApp message.
Tsotetsi is now suggesting that he has not seen the babies at all as Sithole told him he was not allowed to visit them in hospital due to COVID-19.
According to a BBC report, Guinness World Records officials are investigating Sithole’s case before confirming whether she holds the record for most babies delivered at a single birth to survive.
UPDATE – Family issues a statement
The Tsotetsi family issued a statement on Tuesday stating that they have not seen the 10 babies since their alleged birth.
“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,” the statement read.
The family says there is currently no “proof of the decuplets existence”.
“The family has resolved and concluded that there are no decuplets born between Tebogo Tsotetsi and Gosiame Sithole, until proven otherwise and wishes to apologise for any inconvenience and embarrassment.”
Sithole’s whereabouts are allegedly unknown.
— Abednego (@abednego82) June 15, 2021