Woman who claims she gave birth to 10 children admitted to psychiatric ward

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The mother who has claimed she gave birth to decuplets in South Africa has been admitted to a psychiatric ward, with her lawyer alleging she is being held against her will.

Gosiame Sithole was taken to Tembisa Hospital in Johannesburg for a psychiatric evaluation just days after her partner Tebogo Tsotetsi said he does not believe the ten children exist.

Ms Sithole, 37, was first apprehended by police officers at a relative’s house in the northern township of Rabie Ridge near the city of Johannesburg in the early morning of Thursday 17 June.

She was transported to a police station in the nearby suburb of Chloorkop before being handed over to social workers who then admitted her to Tembisa Hospital’s psychiatric ward for a mental health assessment.

The police, who denied that Ms Sithole had been arrested for a crime, had taken her to the station after Mr Tsotetsi’s relatives reported her as missing.

Speculation has grown over Ms Sithole’s claims after the hospital where she claimed she had given birth denied treating her.

The 37-year-old is said to have told her boyfriend she gave birth to the babies after midnight on June 8.

Since Ms Sithole’s detention, her lawyer Refiloe Mokoena has claimed that she is being held against her will and that she will apply for a court order to secure her release.

Ms Mokoena alleged her client was initially denied legal access and that Ms Sithole’s request to visit a private psychologist instead of the institute she was taken to was turned down by the social workers from the Department of Social Development.

The lawyer told reporters: ‘She declined that she should be taken to Tembisa Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation because she felt strongly that she is of sound mind.’

Since being admitted to the hospital’s psychiatric ward, Sithole has been subjected to ‘mental torture’ and ‘starvation’ and she has also been ‘handcuffed’, claims news site IOL.

The lawyer added: ‘When I left Tembisa Hospital, she made it clear that seeing that she is now being held against her will, I should please move an urgent court order for her to be released.’

A protest against her internment was due to be held by relatives, friends and activists outside the hospital on Friday 18th June, though it was not reported if it went ahead.

Dalian Mboweni, one of the march organisers, claimed that Ms Sithole said she was being ‘mistreated’ by hospital staff, reports Pindula News.

The activist said: ‘Sithole told us that she was being mistreated by staff as if she is mentally disturbed. She says she was being shouted at and… she was handcuffed. This is breaking her, we want her released because she is held against her will.’

The development comes after Ms Sithole, who had not revealed her location since the apparent world record, accused the father of her children of trying to become a ‘millionaire’ from the story.

Ms Sithole claimed her boyfriend Mr Tsotetsi was ‘expecting to be rich’ from the alleged record births and was only concerned about the donations coming from people across the world.

She also slammed Mr Tsotetsi for saying he did not believe the decuplets exist, accusing him of trying to ‘hurt’ her and ‘ruin’ what she has with her babies.

The ‘mother’ had said she will continue to keep her children’s whereabouts secret, adding that ‘no-one can force her to’ disclose their location.

Her comments come after Mr Tsotetsi said on Tuesday he had not seen Ms Sithole or the alleged children since her incredible claims which made headlines worldwide.

His family released a statement which said they do not believe there are decuplets until it is proven otherwise.

In videos shared by Pretoria News editor Piet Rampedi on Tuesday night, Ms Sithole refuted Mr Tsotetsi and his family’s claims and constantly refers to ‘my babies’ without directly confirming the number, reports TimesLive.

Ms Sithole, wearing a large brown coat over a patterned dress at an undisclosed location, said: ‘They are unfair because they are doing things and they are trying to hurt me.

‘I speak to Tsotetsi now and then. I feel that they never loved me; I was just forced to be with him.’

Speaking about Mr Tsotetsi and his family’s statement, she said: ‘What they are doing shows me that they wanted to ruin something with my babies.

‘That is why they are crying so much for them. The children are mine and no-one else’s. Why are they after me?

‘They were looking at the donations coming from people and wanting to be millionaires from the births. They were expecting to be rich. That is why I have [my babies] where they are.’

Ms Sithole remained adamant that she would not disclose the location of her children and said ‘no-one is going to force me… I will do it on my own time’.

She also questioned whether Mr Tsotetsi and his family were really sure in their claims that the decuplets do not exist.

‘Are they sure with what they are saying? I want to know if they are sure of what they are saying. I will do what I want, and on my own time and not on their time.

‘I won’t do it for them, I will do it for my sake because they never loved me,’ she said.

Her comments come in response to a statement by Mr Tsotetsi’s family on Tuesday which read: ‘Tebogo confirmed he had not seen the deculplets and relied on his girlfriend who called to inform him of their birth.

‘He made several attempts to visit his girlfriend and the babies but she has failed to disclose her whereabouts and the condition of her babies.

‘The current uncertainties and public disclosure about the decuplets is of major concern to the family, especially in the absence of any proof of the decuplets’ existence other than telephonic and WhatsApp messages from the mother.’

The statement concluded with the family saying they believe there are no decuplets until it is proven otherwise as they apologised and appealed for help in finding Ms Sithole.

It comes after Mr Tsotetsi earlier asked the public to stop donating money to the alleged mother.

He said in a message, according to Pretoria News: ‘I appreciate the financial support that we have been getting from members of the public, but I also would like to appeal to the public to stop making money deposits into our accounts until members of the community have seen the babies.’

According to South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, the Mediclinic Medforum Hospital in Pretori – where Ms Sithole is claimed to have told her partner she gave birth – said it had not treated her.

While the clinic said it was aware of the publicity around the birth of the babies, spokesperson Tertia Kruger told the newspaper following the Pretoria News report on Monday: ‘We can confirm that none of our facilities were involved in the obstetric care of this patient or her decuplets.’

Mr Tsotetsi is also quoted in the Pretoria News story as saying that Ms Sithole had been moved to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital on Friday, but the Sunday Times reported that Gauteng health and provincial authorities were unable to trace her at any of their public or private health facilities.

CEO of the Hospital, Dr Mathabo Mathebula, told Radio 702 that Ms Sithole had arrived at the hospital saying she was the woman who had given birth to 10 babies, but said she was not at the hospital.

‘She’s not at the hospital as we speak. We don’t know the background … on Saturday afternoon she appeared, being accompanied by security, [and said] she wants to go to the NIU (neonatal inpatient unit) because she wants to see her babies.

‘She said she gave birth at Louis Pasteur and they told her they will transfer the babies to the hospital [Steve Biko],’ Mathebula told the radio station.

Meanwhile, Mr Tsotetsi flew to Cape Town on Wednesday to accept a £50,000 donation for the children’s care while insisting the world will get to see them ‘at the right time’.

Tsotetsi originally said his girlfriend gave birth to decuplets – seven boys and three girls – after a ‘natural’ 29-week pregnancy, even though such births are almost always the result of fertility treatments.

Since then a number of relatives have come forward to insist that the birth is genuine, even as local officials say they have no record of the delivery taking place at any hospital in Guateng state, where Pretoria is located.

No doctor has yet come forward to verify the delivery and no pictures of the infants have been published – ostensibly for cultural and religious reasons.

If the birth is confirmed as genuine, it would be a world record – coming just a month after a Malian woman, Halima Cisse, gave birth to nine children in Morocco.

Last week, the infant’s aunt claimed that the ten babies were fighting for their lives at a hospital in South Africa.

The aunt, who has not been publicly identified, said Ms Sithole is also recovering in the same Pretoria hospital after giving birth to five of the children naturally and another five by Caesarean section on Monday.

‘[The babies] are still in incubators fighting for their lives. They came at 29 weeks; the mother is still weak… This is a sensitive issue,’ the woman told TimesLIVE.

Tsotetsi told Pretoria News last week  ‘They are premature, they are still incubated. Very small as you can think – 10 children in one womb that normally carries one baby.

‘They are very small, so the sensitivity that goes into that, even the doctors, they don’t want to risk that.’

He claimed that five babies were born naturally and another five were delivered by c-section, saying a team of six doctors, two gynecologists and two nurses helped.

Tsotetsi said his partner was exhausted after the birth, but that she had managed to get out of bed and take a short walk on Wednesday.

‘She is doing very well.’ he added.

Tsotetsi was the first to break the news of the apparent birth to reporters last Monday, telling the Pretoria News that his girlfriend had given birth to seven boys and three girls.

‘I am happy. I am emotional. I can’t talk much,’ he said at the time.

The news quickly spread around the world, followed by a scramble for official information on the pregnancy and birth that has so-far proved elusive.

South African media have been at loggerheads over the story, with some outlets rushing to confirm the news while others quickly derided it.

Government officials have gone so far as to confirm they are aware of the case and have been in contact with the family before, after Sithole gave birth to twins in 2016.

But Feziwe Ndwayana, a spokesman for the Department of Social Development, said yesterday that she cannot confirm the birth of 10 children because nobody has been in contact with Sithole recently.

Ms Ndwayana added that a social worker was to be sent to the family home last week to try and confirm the authenticity of the delivery.

Pretoria News claims to have been in touch with the family for months over the pregnancy, but held on to the story until after the birth.

The newspaper claims it is not publishing all the details it has about the delivery because of ‘cultural and religious reasons’.

Alongside news of the birth, which first appeared in Tuesday’s paper, the outlet also ran an interview with Sithole and Totetsi that they said was conducted several months ago.

At the time, Sithole believed she was pregnant with eight children – having initially been told she was carrying six before two more were discovered on a later scan.

It was only during the birth itself that the remaining two children were discovered, according to the newspaper.

Sithole said she suffered through the complicated pregnancy, experiencing morning sickness early on followed later by pain in her leg.

Meanwhile Tsotetsi revealed that he initially could not believe his wife with pregnant with six children, thinking it was medically impossible.

‘But after I found out that these things do happen, and saw my wife’s medical records, I got excited. I can’t wait to have them in my arms,’ he said at the time.

The condition of the children following the birth was not made clear by Pretoria News, which was the first to report the case.

Children of such extreme multiple pregnancies are almost always born under-weight and can often be malnourished as the mother’s body struggles to provide nutrients for so many infants.

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