Claims that state officials trafficked eight of the decuplets to Europe and America made by Dr. Iqbal Survé – the owner of independent Media – have sparked an angry response from the Gauteng Provincial Government and the national health department.
In trying to resurrect a long-discredited story that 37-year-old Gosiame Sithole from Tembisa gave birth to 10 babies several months ago, Dr. Survé on Wednesday called a press briefing during which he said eight babies survived and two died at birth.
He claimed the mother saw them before they were trafficked with the help of hospital and home affairs officials as well as a Nigerian doctor with a false name.
Dr. Survé said his media house would soon publish “a 15-minute series” naming the officials involved.
Reacting to Dr. Survé’s claims, the Gauteng government said it will be taking legal action against Independent Media.
The Gauteng Provincial Government said it notes “a report released by the Independent Media group in which very serious allegations are made against medical practitioners, nursing staff, and hospital management without any shred of evidence to substantiate such allegations”.
Earlier this year, the Independent Media group published Sithole’s story claiming she gave birth to decuplets on 7 June 2021.
The Gauteng Provincial Government said at the time it conducted a thorough check with all hospitals in the province to establish the veracity or otherwise of the reports.
It found that none of the hospitals in the province, public and private, had any records of such births at their facilities.
“Despite this, the Pretoria News insisted that the story of the decuplets was true and further stated that the babies were delivered at Steve Biko Academic Hospital,” said the Gauteng Provincial Government.
“The newspaper published serious allegations that the government and the hospital management were trying to cover up medical negligence.
“The woman claiming to have given birth to decuplets was admitted to Tembisa Hospital on 18 June 2021, and various medical tests were conducted on her to determine her state of health.”
The Gauteng Provincial Government said doctors established that the woman did not give birth to any babies nor was she pregnant in recent times.
“The provincial government cannot stand by while serious allegations are made against nurses, doctors, hospital management and health officials,” said a statement from Premier David Makhura’s office.
“These are women and men of integrity who are working selflessly and honestly every day to save lives and at times even risking their own lives.
“Government is duty-bound to protect the integrity of all government officials as well as that of public institutions.
“The provincial government has instructed the State Attorney to institute legal action against the Independent Media group.
“A senior counsel has been briefed and court papers will be served on the Independent Media in due course.”
The National Department of Health said it was “outraged by the damning and unsubstantiated allegations contained in the report released by the Independent Media Group into the alleged missing 10 babies at one of the health facilities in Gauteng Province ”.
The department said it supports the decision taken by the Gauteng Provincial Government to seek appropriate remedy.
“We join the Gauteng Provincial Government in challenging anyone that believes that they have any shred of evidence pointing to unethical practice by any of our health care workers,” said the department.
Anyone with such evidence was advised by the department to lodge a formal complaint with the relevant public institutions such as the Office of Health Ombud, Public Protector, or open a criminal case with the law enforcement agencies for investigation and prosecution.
“We have nothing, but praise for our frontline workers who work tirelessly, often in dangerous circumstances, to care for the people of this country,” said the department.