In its desperate attempt to attack Independent Media, the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has shown their complicity in defending the scourge of human trafficking.
While SANEF froths at the mouth due to the International News Media Association’s (INMA) naming of Independent Media’s ‘Baby Trade - Tracking the truth’ docuseries as a finalist at the Global Media Awards, they continue to ignore key aspects of the content contained in the series.
Firstly and fundamentally, SANEF seems to confuse the ‘Baby Trade’ docuseries with the initial story of the ‘Tembisa 10’. If SANEF members had actually followed the series, then they would have understood this.
Secondly, the docuseries deals with the very real problem of human trafficking in South Africa, using Gosiame Sithole’s story to highlight it. What SANEF does not say or comment on (because they never actually watched the series or objectively dealt with the content) is that the series carries several other voices of experts, investigators, other role players, documentary and circumstantial evidence all of which is provided to audiences so that they can make up their own minds.
It is important to note SANEF’s failures in treating the docuseries objectively, these include ;
– SANEF or its members have not investigated this story
– SANEF or its members have not spoken directly, interviewed or actually heard the story from the individuals directly involved in the story
– SANEF or its members have failed to produce any evidence to the contrary
– SANEF or its members have failed to highlight the lived experiences of black women at state hospitals in South Africa
– SANEF or its members have failed to invest any resources in investigating the claims made by multiple sources about the existence of human trafficking syndicates operating out of Gauteng hospitals
– SANEF former secretary Mahlatse Mahlase claimed Sithole was never pregnant citing government sources, however
In their complete and utter failure to consider the content contained in the docuseries objectively, SANEF inadvertently emboldens human traffickers to continue without the pressure of public scrutiny and law enforcement.
If SANEF or its members had watched the docuseries then they would have realised the following ;
– Based on the findings of Adv Micheal Donen, the examination conducted by Dr Mpho Pooe and several eyewitnesses, there is no doubt that Gosiame Sithole was pregnant. If there was a pregnancy, there is the probability of a birth - Is this not worthy of further investigation?
– It was established that Sithole had a set of triplets with a former partner who confirmed their existence, he visited them in hospital on four separate occasions, and he physically held them. But shortly after their birth the triplets disappeared - Is this not worthy of further investigation?
– Private investigators confirm that there are child trafficking syndicates preying on vulnerable women at Gauteng hospitals. This is corroborated by others with similar experiences - Is this not worthy of further investigation?
– Sources at the Department of Home Affairs revealed that they are now conducting DNA testing because of the influx of ‘parents’ showing up years after birth to register children - highlighting the failure of government processes and administration of births - Is this not worthy of investigation?
– Gosiame Sithole was illegally incarcerated in a psychiatric facility. A medical review found that social workers had acted irregularly - Is this not worthy of further investigation?
– Gosiame Sithole named doctors, hospitals and social workers that played a role in her pregnancy, birth and aftermath. Independently and separately, Independent media investigators were led to common role players by other sources - Is this not worthy of further investigation?
– Government departments initially confirmed Sithole having given birth and subsequently changed their tune - Is this not worthy of further investigation?
– Despite denials from doctors and other role players of their involvement, cellular phone data corroborates Sithole’s version of events and movement over a 6 month period - Is this not worthy of further investigation?
– Despite several threats from government departments and individuals we have exposed to sue Independent Media - nothing has been forthcoming.
There are so many more issues that have been brought to light by the docuseries that warrant delving deeper into this story and the crisis of human trafficking. In SANEF’s desperation to dismiss the series, they have failed to uphold the very principles of journalism that they preach.
Sizwe Dlamini is Editor of the Independent Investigations Unit