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Pretoria News editor Piet Rampedi apologises for his ’10 babies’ story

South African journalist and editor of the Pretoria News, Piet Rampedi has apologized to his colleagues and superiors for publishing a story, two weeks ago, of how Gosiame Sithole had “given birth to 10 babies at a Pretoria hospital” without “verifying” other facts.

Earlier this month the story known as the ‘Tembisa 10’ claimed that a woman from Gauteng gave birth to 10 children hence breaking the world record of nine children. The story captured local and international attention.

In an email sent to his colleagues Piet said he was full of ‘sadness and regret,’ but also maintained the fact that Sithole was indeed pregnant and gave birth.

The South African health department maintained that they had no record of the delivery of decuplets in Gauteng or anywhere in the country.

In the email Piet said, “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 apologize to you, my colleagues and the group.”

He added that he had not done verifications of other facts in the story.

“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”

He added that he knew the couple very well so he had no reason to doubt them.

“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 scans and clinic cards, for instance, as I would normally do with an investigative story.

“There was nothing to investigate, I thought,” he said.

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