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HomeTalking PointsTembisa 10: Evidence remains absent, questions unanswered

Tembisa 10: Evidence remains absent, questions unanswered

Last year South Africans briefly celebrated a Guinness World Record birth, when 10 babies were supposedly born to Gosiame Sithole at Tembisa Hospital. Journalist Ed Herbst has revisited the story and says numerous questions remain unanswered around the unsettling media drama that unfolded.

Herbst writes in Rational Standard that Sithole reportedly gave birth to decuplets – seven boys and three girls – at a Pretoria hospital, “breaking the Guinness World Record, which was previously nine children”.

However, the story fell apart in spectacular fashion shortly thereafter, when it appeared that not only had no decuplet births been recorded in the entire province, but no one could find any proof of the babies.

There were also discrepancies in reports of at which hospital the births took place; the “father” admitted to “only ever hearing about them but not seeing” his babies; and the woman’s family gave conflicting comment to newspapers about her state of mind and whereabouts. After the Gauteng government announced she “had not given birth or been pregnant in recent times”, she was sent for mental observation.

The story’s disintegration tarnished the reputations of not only the Independent Newspapers journalist who’d allegedly “broken” the story, Piet Rampedi, the Pretoria News editor, but also the company’s owner, Iqbal Survé, writes Herbst. Independent, however, insisted there was “a cover-up” of the births by colluding hospital authorities (both state and private); and that a mysterious Nigerian doctor who’d been present at the birth and since disappeared, was also involved.

At a media conference in October regarding the Tembisa 10, Survé’s explanations over the decuplets’ non-appearance included claims of the mass abduction of babies countrywide, and Gauteng hospitals and staff being linked to a multi-million rand international baby trafficking syndicate engaged in the theft of organs and stem-cell for medical and cosmetic purposes.

Independent subsequently appointed veteran anti-apartheid lawyer, advocate, and acting judge, Michael Donen SC, to investigate Rampedi’s reporting on the story, but four months later, there has been “a deafening silence from him”, writes Herbst.

Herbst writes:

The first Zondo Commission report proved conclusively how damaging the state capture reporting by discredited journalists like Piet Rampedi has been. Now, apropos Independent Newspapers owner Iqbal Survé’s claim at the Tembisa 10 media conference in October 2021 that “baby muti” is being produced from “trafficked” babies on such a vast scale that it is generating multi-billion-rand profits, I ask myself:

Where is the processing plant, where is the product, and where is the security camera footage showing the babies being abducted – given the fact that all state hospitals have CCTV cameras at the entrance to the building and at the entrance to departments?

What struck me about that media conference and Survé’s claims was that, despite a four-month investigation, human rights lawyer and acting judge Michael Donen and senior investigative reporter Sizwe Dlamini did not produce a single frame of video evidence to substantiate the allegation that multiple baby abductions are taking place in Gauteng hospitals.

Furthermore, it goes without saying that, for any medical product to generate huge profits, it must be freely available all over the world yet, after months of investigation, Donen and Dlamini have still not produced a single bottle or a single pill of baby “muti” or “stem cell” product.

How are the abducted babies or their bodies transported to the processing plant and how has this remained undetected for so long?

More prosaically, where is the Gauteng hospital CCTV security camera footage showing, in the first place, the occurrence of these multiple baby smuggling abductions?

There are 39 state-controlled hospitals in Gauteng, and the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto is the third-largest hospital in the world. All state hospitals have CCTV cameras at the entrances and at the entrances to individual departments.

What is also striking is the world’s utter indifference to Surve’s claims of babies being abducted and murdered in sufficient numbers to generate an immensely profitable intercontinental trade in baby “muti”.

There has been no indication from the police that they consider Survé’s claims as worthy of investigation, very probably because there is no indication that Survé has liaised in any way with them. How does one explain, let alone justify, this?

Equally unmoved are the head of Interpol, the World Health Organisation, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Furthermore, in its 2021 report, Human Rights Watch makes specific mention of children’s rights in South Africa, yet this report contains no reference to the multitudinous neonate abductions to sustain a murderous global trade that are the subject of the current drip feed “docuseries”.

The ultimate price

South Africa’s healthcare workers have literally put their lives on the line in their COVID-19 fight to keep us all safe and alive, and many have paid the ultimate price. Those in Gauteng did not retreat from that struggle, yet Survé has accused them all of being complicit in a huge “cover-up”, of the mass murder of babies.

Survé would have us believe, a vast conspiracy of silence exists at all levels of hospital administration in Gauteng with the specific objective of preventing his truth about baby trafficking on a huge scale from being revealed to the world.

What should be noted is that the hospitals mentioned in these baby smuggling claims, the Steve Biko Hospital and the Lenmed Zamokuhle Private Hospital and Mediclinic Medforum Hospital – i.e., both state and private hospitals – all deny treating her as a patient. If we accept Survé’s claims in good faith, we have to believe that the staff at these hospitals are all lying and are part of the “muti” syndicate conspiracy.

Furthermore, according to Gauteng Health, when Sithole was examined at the Tembisa Hospital on 18 June 2021, doctors could find no evidence that she had recently been pregnant or had given birth. Another defining flaw in Survé’s story is the absence of charges being laid at police stations by grieving mothers whose babies have been abducted at local hospitals.

The exploitation of children by paedophiles or in a child labour context has always been with us, but baby abductions from hospital maternity wards are, universally, very rare. They occur once a decade – if that.

In the past 24 years I know of only three baby abductions in South Africa that have been investigated by the police. Common to all is that they feature a bereaved woman fearing disgrace and the loss of love if she cannot prove that she has given birth – and miscarriage is the usual trigger for the abduction. When such abductions do occur, however, they are always big news.


Rational Standard article – Tembisa Ten Part 1: Where is the Security Camera Evidence? (Open access)


Rational Standard – Tembisa Ten Part 2: Where Are The Grieving Mothers of Gauteng (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Tembisa 10: HPCSA to investigate ‘obs/gynae misrepresentation’ by GP


Tembisa 10: Claims of gigantic conspiracy by SA’s doctors, nurses and hospitals


Woman claimed to be mom of 10 goes to court over psychiatric hospitalisation



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