Inside state’s Thembisa 10 report: How MEC tried to solve mysterious pregnancy

Johannesburg – A confidential report, which gives details of the frantic behind-the-scenes efforts by the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) and Independent Media executive chairman Iqbal Surve to prove the existence of the so-called Thembisa 10, has emerged.

The report, prepared for the Gauteng Department of Health, comes as speculation swirls over whether Gosiame Sithole was indeed pregnant before she purportedly gave birth to the decuplets, a story which made international headline news last week.

According to a memorandum authored by the hospital’s CEO, Dr Mathabo Mathebula, and seen by Sunday World, she was on June 12 summoned to a meeting in which Gauteng health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi sought to get clarity on whether Sithole had given birth to the 10 babies.

“I was called by Honourable MEC Dr Mokgethi, [in a teleconference] with Dr Iqbal Surve and Ms Meokgo Matuba (secretary- general of ANCWL) on Saturday at 13:41,” she wrote in the memo.

Dr Mathebula wrote that the “MEC wanted to confirm the fact that there were no decuplets admitted at Steve Biko Academic Hospital. I stated that, indeed, there were never decuplets admitted at SBAH (Steve Biko Academic Hospital).”

She wrote that two further consecutive meetings were convened via teleconference, one taking place last Saturday and another the following day.

Both meetings were attended by the same parties.

“On Sunday, Dr Surve stated that his investigators have established that the decuplets were born at Tshwane District Hospital and transferred and admitted at Steve Biko Academic Hospital’s neonatal unit and that the mother was admitted in the SBAH’s Lodger Mother Ward.

“He further stated that he has the mother’s image to that effect. He stated that the above is attested to by a doctor, a nurse and a matron of Tshwane District Hospital, and a NICU professional nurse of SBAH,” Dr Mathebula wrote in the memo.

Upon seeing that Dr Surve was not convinced of her version of events, Dr Mathebula wrote that she subsequently physically went to the neonatal unit as well as the maternity ward, where it was further confirmed by the nurses and the doctors on call that there was no existence of the decuplets.

Eyewitness News on Friday reported that Sithole showed no signs of having being pregnant or delivering a baby in the past two weeks. Sources close to the investigation into the matter told Eyewitness News that Sithole was medically examined by a medical team at the Thembisa Hospital in Gauteng’s East Rand.

“The medical evaluation has shown that there was no pregnancy. It also shows that there are no physical scars to indicate a recent c-section,” a source said.

Sunday World has also independently verified that the government will this week finally make an official announcement that Sithole was never pregnant.

We have it on good authority that the government is under pressure to make an announcement to put the matter to rest.

Pretoria News, which is owned by Independent Media Group, broke the controversial story a fortnight ago.

The publication maintains that the story is authentic and that the mysterious disappearance of the “10 bundles of joy” is a “cover-up” involving senior government officials and politicians.

Asked as to what the role of the ANCWL in the saga was, Matuba said as a women’s organisation, they were genuinely concerned about the welfare of Sithole.

“What I can tell you is that we wanted to know that all the processes were followed in the first place. For instance, whether there was a prenatal clinic and whether there were records and whether there were scans. We do not have any clarity,” she said.

Steve Biko Academic hospital insists that the only time that they met Sithole was when she came to the hospital to allege that she was following her babies.

The Department of Health’s spokesperson, Popo Maja, saidon Saturday that the alleged “cover- up” by health authorities was more likely a “journalistic error”.

“Publishing a story of this nature without verifying the details is not only a journalistic error of unparalleled proportions, but a disservice to journalism and the public good,” he said.

“It cannot be that 10 or eight babies are born and no evidence of their whereabout or existence can be established,” he said.

“Given the magnitude of the allegations, we invite Independent Media, which has insinuated wrongdoing on the part of health professionals and government, to assist Ms Sithole to pursue a complaint with the health ombudsman for the alleged mistreatment of the patient.”

Meanwhile, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, SA’s Health Ombudsman, said he would only get involved in the decuplets saga if his office was requested to do so.

“I get involved only if I’m asked or if there is a grievance. In this case, I do not know if this matter is worth a complaint or not because I am not sure as to what will be the basis of the complaint. This case involves government departments and the journalist in question who has to answer questions,” he said.

Read more:

Editorial: Thembisa 10 saga has made fools of us all

SA government scrambles to locate “Tembisa 10”

Ekurhuleni mayor locates “Tembisa 10” family

Steve Biko Academic Hospital says ‘Thembisa 10’ mother was never admitted

Gosiame Tsotseti’s family confirms the 10 babies are doing well

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