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A perfect 10? Claim of world’s 1st ‘decuplets’ gives birth to mystery in South Africa

Baby stroller outside a home
A baby stroller stands outside the home of Gosiame Thamara Sithole, who purportedly gave birth to decuplets, in Tembisa, South Africa.
(Denis Farrell / Associated Press)

South Africa has been gripped by the mystery of whether a woman has, as has been claimed, actually given birth to 10 babies, in what would be the world’s first recorded case of decuplets.

Gosiame Thamara Sithole of Tembisa township, near Johannesburg, gave birth to the babies Monday, according to the Pretoria News, which quoted the parents. The babies — seven boys and three girls — were born prematurely and have not made a public appearance or been captured on camera, the newspaper reported.

The South African government said it was still trying to verify the claim.

That has led to South Africans obsessing on social media over whether the story of the “Tembisa 10” is indeed true.

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The father, Teboho Tsotetsi, told the paper that his wife had given birth in a hospital in the capital, Pretoria. He said it was a big surprise for the parents after doctors detected eight babies in prenatal scans.

“It’s seven boys and three girls. She was seven months and seven days pregnant. I am happy. I am emotional,” the newspaper quoted Tsotetsi as saying.

Mali’s Ministry of Health says a Malian woman has given birth to nine babies after expecting only seven.

The couple already have 6-year-old twins. The decuplets would give the parents an even dozen kids if the claim is borne out.

South Africans are eagerly waiting for proof of what would be a world record. Relatives and neighbors of the couple have insisted the news is true.

“For her to receive 10 blessings at one given time, we thank God for that,” Wilson Machaya, a neighbor of the family in Tembisa, told the Associated Press. “And because we are neighbors, we will have to assist in any way possible.”

A Malian woman gave birth to nine babies only last month in Morocco, in what was hailed as the world’s first case of nonuplets.

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The Department of Social Development in South Africa’s Gauteng province confirmed that it had tracked down Sithole. Spokeswoman Feziwe Ndwayana said the department would make an announcement after meeting with the family.

Another local government department said earlier this week that it had no record of the babies’ births in any of the province’s hospitals.

The Pretoria News initially interviewed Sithole and her husband at their home nearly a month ago when they thought they were having eight babies. The couple requested that the story be published only after the babies were born for safety and cultural reasons, the newspaper said.

According to the report, Sithole went on leave earlier than expected from her job as a retail store manager because she could no longer cope. Tsotetsi is unemployed.

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One organization has given $70,000 to the couple to help, and other South Africans are being encouraged to donate.

Alongside #Tembisa10, the term #NationalBabyShower has been trending on Twitter.


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