Respected veteran anti-apartheid lawyer, advocate and acting judge, Michael Donen SC, is to investigate Pretoria News editor Piet Rampedi’s story about the Tembisa 10.
The story about the so-called “miracle birth” was published at the beginning of June. In a press release, Independent Media said Rampedi “maintains that Ms Gosiame Sithole was pregnant with multiple babies, and believes his story still holds”.
The story made world headlines, but it wasn’t long before contradictions arose, with many flagging the Pretoria News exclusive as fake news. The Gauteng provincial government said no hospitals had records of 10 babies being born. With them being born two months premature, they babies would require specialist medical care. Later, after Ms Sithole was admitted to hospital, doctors found she had not been pregnant recently.
In the press release, Independent Media said because the story had “become mired in controversy, conflicting accounts, and contradictory evidence” its reputation had been brought into the spotlight. “Consequently, the news organisation has launched several measures to uncover the facts behind the story,” it said.
The media group said Donen was well-placed to lead the inquiry, with an “impeccable reputation spanning a legal career of more than three decades, specialising in human rights, epitomises integrity, fairness, impartiality, and intellectual rigour”.
Executive Chairman of Independent Media, Dr Iqbal Survé, in appointing Donen to head up the Inquiry said: “We are very pleased that Michael will be overseeing this important inquiry. As he has done for every step of his remarkable career, he will do what is right, not what is easy and we hope that having him as the lead, will also instil the necessary public confidence in the process that must unfold to get to the truth in this matter.”
Independent Media said it had put in place a three-pronged action plan. This included an investigation by the company’s own Press Ombud (it withdrew from the official Press Council several years ago) and the company’s investigations editor, Sizwe Dlamini, would conduct his own inquiry.
The company promised it would release publicly all findings and recommendations.
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