[imagesource: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)]
Iqbal Survé, the Executive Chairman of Independent Media, promised that yesterday’s press conference, titled “In Search of the Truth – Explosive Evidence of Wrongdoing to be Revealed in Decuplets Report”, would be “nothing short of explosive”.
And it was, in a way.
Now we’re left to pick through the pieces to try and find the truth, with the long since discredited media outlet doubling down on outrageous claims made during the Tembisa 10 saga, along with adding further tales of subterfuge.
Take everything that follows with a healthy dose of salt. Here are some of the things Survé claims were uncovered during the investigation into how the story was reported via IOL:
Independent Media launched a detailed investigation – including the deployment of deep-cover operatives – to uncover a syndicate of human traffickers central to whom are several obstetricians and gynaecologists operating in the private sector and using state hospitals – such as Steve Biko, Tembisa and Dr George Mukhari – to further their aims…
He said some of the doctors involved have fled the country.
A Nigerian doctor who goes by various names to his patients and practice has been pointed to as the lead doctor who “showcased” Sithole to four other hospitals and his colleagues.
Survé says Gosiame Sithole was told she was pregnant with eight babies in early 2020.
On June 7, Survé says Sithole was induced at Steve Biko Academic Hospital, but something went wrong.
She was then taken to a private hospital in Tembisa, along with the mystery Nigerian doctor. She had delivered eight babies, and two more were found dead inside her fallopian tubes.
Survé then revealed that the investigation had uncovered a massive human trafficking cover-up.
He stated the state hospital and others Sithole attended had been linked to a trafficking syndicate. This also implicated the Department of Home Affairs.
“Many mothers are told their babies have died. This trafficking has been found goes from Gauteng, to Mpumalanga, West Africa, Europe and the US.
“Fifty percent of the babies are adopted while the other 50% are used for muti, cosmetic surgeries and stem cells.
I told you we were going off the deep end.
Survé also announced that a “docu-series will be launched in the next two weeks pertaining to evidence of trafficking and the Tembisa 10 cover-up”:
Survé said names, documentation, audio and video clips, doctors, nurses, social workers, politicians, police and even magistrates will all be exposed during the series.
“WhatsApp messages, substantial clinical records, will all be revealed. There are many villains in this story, as well as many heroes and heroines for having exposed the truth. Many have been threatened and almost killed,” he said…
The series will be published over 12 weeks and each video will be 15 minutes long.
Talk about milking the story for every last drop.
So that is Survé’s take on things. As we know, he doesn’t come with a stellar reputation for truth-telling.
Now for the other side of the equation, starting with the independent report compiled by Advocate Michael Donen SC, who chaired the external inquiry.
This via TimesLIVE:
Donen said there were ethical breaches committed by Independent Media and said Pretoria News editor Piet Rampedi, who wrote the story, failed to do due diligence in his reporting.
“Mr Rampedi concluded to publish the story to say 10 babies were born, without any corroboration. It was reckless because the only evidence was what the alleged father [Mr Tsotetsi] said to him. According to journalistic standards, that was reckless,” Donen said.
Donen found that Rampedi violated Independent Media’s code. He said the story was misleading.
Donen recommended that disciplinary proceedings be instituted against Rampedi, who has so far remained mum on the matter.
In response to Survé’s claims, the Gauteng government has stated that it will institute legal action against the Independent Media group due to the “serious allegations made against nurses, doctors, hospital management and health officials”.
Provincial spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga said a senior counsel had been briefed, and court papers would be served on Independent Media in due course…
The national health department backed the move, saying it was outraged by the “damning and unsubstantiated” allegations.
Survé claims that Sithole visited a number of hospitals in Gauteng, including Netcare Sunninghill Hospital.
Netcare has come out swinging, saying that no patient with a multiple pregnancy of eight or more foetuses had ever been admitted.
In addition, the owners of the Zamokuhle Private Hospital, Lenmed Hospital Group, also sent out a statement. The group says Sithole did not give birth to decuplets at any of its facilities in June this year.
Now let’s get to The Daily Maverick’s Rebecca Davis, who isn’t buying Survé’s story:
This is all an absolute pile of steaming horseshit, obviously, but some people will doubtless believe it. That’s because there is already a well-trodden path covering the same lowest common denominator narrative, and that is via the global conspiracy theory known as QAnon.
Powerful people stealing babies is literally what QAnon is all about. Survé has just added some local spice by fingering the entire government health apparatus as being in league with baby-stealing Nigerians — Nigerians, of course, being worth double points in any South African game of Populist Bingo, Xenophobia edition.
Wednesday’s events have thus foisted upon South Africa one of the thorniest philosophical dilemmas of our time: Who do you trust less, Iqbal Survé or the government?
That’s really a call none of us wants to have to make.
Can I go with neither?
Richard Poplak, also writing for The Daily Maverick, really took the gloves off in his customary style.
Let’s start with his take on Piet Rampedi, the man who broke the story without checking any facts:
Piet is, of course, a connoisseur of bullshit, a liar’s liar who lies so routinely that he probably doesn’t know he’s lying anymore. Piet’s best work is probably the evergreen “Rogue Unit” story, which ran over successive editions of the Sunday Times newspaper during the unhappy year of 2014.
Then there’s Survé:
What is there left to say about Dr Iqbal? Well, aside from serving as God’s chief adviser and engineering the Big Bang, he’s been accused of defrauding the Public Investment Corporation of billions.
The PIC is the financial vehicle that holds the future of millions of working-class South Africans in its hands, but Iqbal is rather flexible when it comes to the welfare of average humans – the wealth should trickle down from the top, unless it doesn’t, in which case Independent Media is there to deflect the blame.
Rather than admit any journalistic failings, Survé went all in:
This is QAnon-level crazy shit, but Iqbal may be on to something: South Africans are done with reality. The story contains a number of vital and explosive elements: a ghastly hospital, a venal foreigner, a lying political class, vulnerable children being trafficked by evil wrongdoers, Iqbal as human rights champion (eyeroll). This is a potent mixture of 2021 South Africa’s id – a potjie of our worst fears and most violent hatreds…
Iqbal and his pals know this. They also know that by destroying their own credibility they help poison the ground on which all South African media must stand – they debase themselves in order to debase us all.
We’re still in a pandemic, our hospitals and doctors and nurses and healthcare workers have spent 18 months risking their lives under intolerable conditions, and now they’re being accused of orchestrating a massive human trafficking ring.
That, or Survé and Rampedi and his pals are talking bollocks.
Poplak finishes with a flourish:
Piet Rampedi and Iqbal Survé will scorch all the earth they can to survive, and it doesn’t matter how many illusory Nigerian doctors and pregnant women they throw under the bus in the process.
The Tembisa 10 live! We will find them in the dark phantasmagoria of South Africa’s new unreality.
Here we are, looking ahead at weeks of Survé rolling out his docuseries.
Perhaps he could have presented some of this evidence at yesterday’s press conference, just to lay down a marker?
Whether we ever get to the bottom of that issue remains to be seen, but the circus will most certainly continue.
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