The story of a South African mom who made a Guinness World Record by giving birth to the decouplets was established by local authorities as fake. The local newspaper, which insisted that the multiple births were true, was threatened with a lawsuit.
According to the New York Post, the 37-year-old mother, Gosiame Thamara Sithole from Gauteng, South Africa, was confirmed not even recently pregnant by a local government inquiry.
This contradicts the original report by Pretoria News about her on June 8, which held that Sithole gave birth to seven boys and three girls by Caesarean section.
The local outlet also had a follow-up report saying that the purported father of the babies, Teboga Tsotetsi, was telling others to stop donating money to Sithole, concerned that the decuplets did not even exist after weeks of not being able to meet her.
“He (Tebego) made several attempts to visit his girlfriend, but she has failed to disclose her whereabouts and the condition of her babies,” said Tsotetsi’s family while accusing her that the pregnancy was fake according to The Sun.
The Pretoria News, on June 16, however, declared that it stood by Sithole’s story. It claimed that the writer Piet Rampedi had a close enough relationship with the couple to know the validity of Sithole’s words.
It also stated that the babies’ father could not meet her because the “government was trying to cover up medical negligence” by keeping Sithole away from seeing anyone.
On Wednesday, June 23, however, the Gauteng Provincial Government debunked the mother’s claims, saying that it had “conducted a thorough check with all hospitals” in the area to verify the existence of the pregnancy.
“None of the hospitals in the province, public and private, had any records of such births at their facilities,” the government said in a statement, according to the New York Post.
“It has now been established by medical practitioners that Ms Sithole did not give birth to any babies in recent times. It has also been established that she was not pregnant in recent times.”
The reason why Sithole could not meet her husband, as the officials confirmed after they found her, was because she was taken in for a 72-hour psychiatric evaluation which meant to keep her away for weeks.
In the case of Pretoria News, for accusing the local government of trying to cover up Sithole’s story, the government wanted to “institute legal action” against it and the Editor of the Pretoria News, Mr. Piet Rampedi.
“These allegations are false, unsubstantiated and only serve to tarnish the good reputation of Steve Biko Academic Hospital and the Gauteng Provincial Government,” read the statement.
In an email to his employees, News24 reports that Rampedi apologized to his employees, admitting that he was not careful with clarifying the details about Sithole before publishing the story.
“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,” wrote Rampedi, giving that his confidence about the decuplets was due to his friendship with Sithole.
“They had no reason to lie to me about the pregnancy. For me, it was a story of celebration. Hence, I never demanded documentary proof of the pregnancy, such as scanners and clinic cards, for instance, as I would normally do with an investigative story,” he added.
“However, judging by the sudden turn of events and the reaction from the government and our detractors, I was wrong.”