Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu says she is waiting for consolidated information before “going public” and drawing a line under the decuplets saga that has gripped the country for the past two weeks.
Zulu said that she held a meeting with the provincial department of social development and the department of health and that there are a few loose ends that needed to be sorted out before briefing the public about what really happened in the case involving Tembisa mother, Gosiame Sithole, who claimed to have given birth to a record-breaking 10 babies.
Zulu would not be drawn on when the public announcement would take place, but said it could be next week. On Wednesday, a national media house alleged a “cover-up of mammoth proportions” about the story broken by one of its publications, which reported that Sithole had given birth to 10 babies at an unnamed hospital in Pretoria.
After doubt was cast on the story, the said media house doubled down on its claims, saying it stood by their stories and had initiated a “private investigation” into the saga. The newspaper group claimed the denials that the babies existed were “part of a campaign to cover up medical negligence that involved senior politicians and public servants”.
In response, the media house said: “Yes, the allegations are wild, but there is no smoke without fire. We want to be as diligent as possible. I believe it is important for us to communicate with people about what is going on. We really don’t want to come across as sensational and dramatic. This is a very sensitive case. We have it under control from the point of view of due process and from the point of view of the department of health and the police. We are working well with the province.”
On Thursday, Sithole was reportedly taken to a hospital in Tembisa for psychiatric evaluation after being taken to a police station early that morning. This was after the father of the alleged babies, Tebogo Tsotetsi, opened a missing persons case.
Earlier this week, Tsotetsi released a statement saying he no longer believed there were 10 babies. Sithole responded in a video saying there were 10 babies but that his family never liked her. Zulu would not confirm nor deny the existence of the babies.
“There are families involved here. When all is said and done, there are other children involved too,” she said, referring to Sithole’s twins. “Our priority remains the wellbeing of the mother and the other children.”
Zulu said she had to brief President Cyril Ramaphosa about the saga and didn’t want him finding out what happened “in the newspapers”.
“There is no way he wouldn’t be interested,” she said when asked if the president was also following the case. “My responsibility is to brief him.”