Pretoria News editor apologises for misleading and reporting without verifying facts

News24 claims to have seen an email from Rampedi which was addressed to Independent Media’s editor-in-chief, Aneez Salie. Although Rampedi expressed being “extremely sorry” about the situation, he stood by the fact that Gosiame Sithole was pregnant and gave birth.

In his email, as cited by News24, Rampedi wrote:

“I am sorry for the reputational damage the aftermath of the story has caused for the group, the company and my colleagues in general. I am fully aware that the story, and the general response, put all my colleagues in an awkward position and under immense public pressure.

“To be blunt, the story provided detractors with an opportunity to cast aspersions on the professional integrity of not only myself, but also my colleagues in the group. For that, I am extremely sorry. It was unfortunate. And I would like to apologise to you, my colleagues and the group,” he said.

The “Tembisa 10” saga gained global traction as 37-year-old Sithole was reported to have given birth to decuplets, thus breaking a world record.

However, Sithole was physically examined at the Tembisa Hospital as EWN has reported and 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.”

The national health department therefore declared that there was no record of the delivery of decuplets in Gauteng, News24 adds.

The latest developments that have surfaced relates to Sithole, who was taken in for psychiatric evaluation.

Rampedi went on to maintain that even though he stood by Sithole with her story and had no reason to doubt the couple, he could have put more measures in place to verify the facts.

“Even though I stand by the fact that Sithole was pregnant, some aspects of the story could have been dealt with differently. Could I have handled the story much better? Definitely! Especially the verification process. Quite honestly, I never treated the decuplets story as an investigation at all. I used no investigative tool or checklist,” read the email.

“They had no reason to lie to me about the pregnancy. For me, it was a story of celebration. Hence, I never demanded documentary proof of the pregnancy, such as scanners and clinic cards, for instance, as I would normally do with an investigative story. There was nothing to investigate, I thought,” he said.

“However, judging by the sudden turn of events and the reaction from the government and our detractors, I was wrong. It was not necessarily a feel-good story. It was an investigative story and ought to have been treated as such,” he added.

Rampedi then mentioned that the couple was not comfortable to have the interview conducted by another reporter.

“The reality of the matter is that I did ask the couple whether they were open to the story being done by one of my reporters. They were not comfortable. They rejected the idea out of hand. They simply had trust issues around respect for their safety, culture and religion. They were paranoid, hence they took forever to agree to an interview,” read the email.

Salie was quoted as having said won’t comment on internal company matters.

Ed Note: SLM would also like to apologise to its readers for carrying the story without verifying its contents when it broke.

Image (The truth that never was. The “Tembisa 10” saga gained global traction as 37-year-old Sithole was reported to have given birth to decuplets, thus breaking a world record).

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