Independent Media has appointed veteran anti-apartheid lawyer, advocate and acting judge Michael Donen SC to chair its external inquiry into the Tembisa decuplets story.
Since the story of the birth of the 10 babies to Gosiame Sithole first broke in June and garnered international exposure and local censure, many have decried the news as fake. The story has become mired in controversy, conflicting accounts, and contradictory evidence, with Independent Media’s reputation also under the spotlight.
However, Pretoria News editor Piet Rampedi, who exclusively broke the story, maintains that Sithole was pregnant with multiple babies, and believes his story still holds.
Independent Media has since launched several measures to uncover the facts behind the story, including an independently led inquiry, which will now be chaired by Donen.
“Donen is well-placed to lead this inquiry, having had experience leading other inquiries in the past, particularly his appointment by President Thabo Mbeki to head the Donen Commission of Inquiry into the Oil for Food Programme in Iraq. His impeccable reputation spanning a legal career of more than three decades, specialising in human rights, epitomises integrity, fairness, impartiality, and intellectual rigour,” Independent Media said in a statement.
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.”
Donen commented that he is looking forward to investigating the situation in question and attempting to clear up the confusion, which appears to exist at present.
The inquiry is part of a three-pronged action plan put in place by Independent Media, that includes an investigation by Independent Media’s Press Council and Press Ombudsman, as well as a separate investigation led by Independent Media’s Investigations Editor, Sizwe Dlamini.
Independent Media said it would publicly release all findings and recommendations on completion of all Inquiries and investigations.
With the whereabouts of the 10 babies still a mystery, Sithole is being kept at Weskoppies Hospital as an involuntary patient in terms of the Mental Health Act.
Meanwhile, the father of Sithole’s children, Teboho Tsotetsi, has reportedly instituted criminal proceedings at the Pretoria Central police station against various people involved in the debacle.