THIS WEEK saw Dr Iqbal Survés attempt to recast himself as a wealthy philanthropist and friend of newborns everywhere fall flat amidst yet another infantile furore involving the Independent Group.
Survé and his organisation Survé Philanthropies appear to be the victim of an elaborate public relations stunt involving the handing over of a R1 million cheque in a well-orchestrated bogus bambino hoax backed up by none other than the Independent Group.
That Survés Sekunjalo Group are effectively the owners of the Independent Group should make no difference to how one views a startling case of falling victim to one’s own propaganda machine, and following years of sacrificing journalism standards to craft what can only be described as a private marketing network posing as news media.
What started out as an astonishing multi-toddler scoop by Piet Rampedi of the Pretoria News quickly disintegrated into mudslinging and recrimination, as INM CEO Takudzwa Hove (anyone heard of him?) stood by Rampedi’s story that Gosiame Sithole and Tebogo Tsotetsi had ‘become parents to a record-breaking ten babies born at a private Pretoria hospital.’
“The first red flag about the story was the sheer coincidence that it came a month after a Mali woman gave birth to nine babies,” wrote Mahlatse Mahlase of EWN, one of the first news outlets to debunk the story as an elaborate if fanciful con.
“Such pregnancies are exceedingly rare. Yet, shortly after that birth, a South African supposedly followed with 10. In fact, the interview by Independent was done the very month the Mali woman gave birth” she says.
As Jasmine Stone of 2OceansVibe opined: “The fact that it’s solely IOL with the inside scoop, and in particular, journalist Piet Rampedi (notorious for his role in the fake SARS ‘rogue unit’ stories from years back), only adds further intrigue.”
Yesterday the Health Department issued a striking rebuttal of INM’s claims of a government coverup, stating that their claims appear to be a ‘journalistic error’ since there is currently no evidence of the existence of the decuplets.
The family of the purported father of the babies, Tebogo Tsotetsi has also issued a statement denying their existence:
“The family has resolved and concluded that there are no decuplets born between Tebogo Tsotetsi and Gosiame Sithole, until proven otherwise and wishes to apologise for any inconvenience and embarrassment.”