“Many mothers are told their babies have died. This trafficking has been found goes from Gauteng, to Mpumalanga, West Africa, Europe and the US.

“Fifty percent of the babies are adopted while the other 50% are used for muti, cosmetic surgeries and stem cells.”

Tembisa 10: Report reveals decuplets were trafficked IOL 27/10/2021

This is all an absolute pile of steaming horseshit, obviously, but some people will doubtless believe it. That’s because there is already a well-trodden path covering the same lowest common denominator narrative, and that is via the global conspiracy theory known as QAnon. Powerful people stealing babies is literally what QAnon is all about. Survé has just added some local spice by fingering the entire government health apparatus as being in league with baby-stealing Nigerians — Nigerians, of course, being worth double points in any South African game of Populist Bingo, Xenophobia edition.

Rebecca Davis Daily Maverick 28/10/ 2021

At the end of the most bewildering press conference I have ever witnessed in my 53 years as a reporter, I was left with more questions than answers:

Why, in the interests of transparency, was the SARS ‘Rogue Unit brothel reporter, Piet Rampedi, not present to take questions about his ‘Guinness World Record’ scoop?

Sekunjalo Independent Media’s claims that Gosiame Sithole was abused by the personnel at Gauteng hospitals raise a singular concern.  Section 70 of the Mental Health Care Act 17 of 2002 places a heavy onus on those who have proof that a mental health care user has been abused to report such abuse to the police.  Was this done and, if so, why were the charges not made known at this media conference along with a case number? 

Michael Donen, as a respected lawyer and acting Judge, would undoubtedly have made reference to this in his report.  He told News 24 that he had handed his report to the instructing attorneys on 13 August so why, two and a half months later, has his report still not been made available to the media despite their requests?

SANEF said: It must be noted this report has not been made public, and we call on it to be made accessible to everyone for perusal.

We were told about Gosiame Sithole who, at the age of 48 and without the aid of fertility drugs, gave birth to eight subsequently-stolen babies – but is the account we were given true?

Dr Chantal Stewart, head of foetal medicine at the University of Cape Town told News 24 that a simultaneous combination of ectopic pregnancy and multiple births was unheard of:

“It is possible to have a baby in the womb and the tubes. It is very, very rare. I suppose it’s possible to have an ectopic pregnancy and multiple pregnancy. I have never seen it or read it in journals.”

We were told that Gosiame Sithole had her eight babies “trafficked” and, before that, had her triplets stolen, but where are the other victims?

Given the alleged scale of this incomprehensibly evil endeavour which must involve ambulance drivers,  nurses, doctors, administrative staff all the way up to hospital managers, and senior ANC politicians – all co-ordinated by the mysterious ‘Nigerian doctor with two names’ – why have we not heard from the dozens if not hundreds of other mothers who must, if Iqbal  Survé’s claims are credible, have experienced similar criminality? I ask the question because, according to Survé, Gauteng hospitals are the epicentre of a vast, multi-billion rand global human trafficking cartel:

“This trafficking has been found goes from Gauteng, to Mpumalanga, West Africa, Europe and the US.”

He said there was no doubt that the network of traffickers existed and stated the syndicate cost the country between R1 billion and R2bn annually.

We know from isolated instances in the past, that a mother quickly realises her baby has been stolen and raises the alarm but, we are led to believe, things have changed at both state and private hospitals in Gauteng and mothers are now remaining silent as babies are stolen in sufficient numbers to generate multi-billion rand profits.


A sophisticated and murderous human smuggling scheme involving what must be dozens of people on several continents and the only victim we are told about is Gosiame Sithole?

Surely all this effort and initiative could not have focused on a single woman? Surely her babies and just her babies could not generate multi-billion rand profits?

And if the “trafficked babies” were used for “muti”, then they were murdered, not so? Murdered without the police and the intelligence agencies in “West Africa, Europe and the US” being in any way aware of what we are led to believe has been happening on a substantial scale for some time? Murdered without investigative journalists in these countries having been aware?

No proof was provided to back up this macabre claim but it does raise another important concern because, if babies are being murdered for “muti” then, clearly, lives of the newly-born are at risk – literally as we speak.

Has Survé, through diplomatic channels, alerted the governments of the countries where these baby murderers are operating?

He is, after all, honorary consul in South Africa for Finland, so does he not have a profound moral obligation to alert the Scandinavian countries and why have they not publicly reacted to this news?

We must not despair however – we are promised a series of shocking television episodes which, hopefully, will reveal to a stunned international audience who the murderous Pablo Escobar of human trafficking is.

Subsequent to this media conference, Netcare issued a media statement emphatically denying that Gosiame Sithole was treated at any of their hospitals, as did the Lenmed Group and the Gauteng government said it will seek redress through the courts.

In the context of media ethics, I perceive the ‘Baby-Muti’ news conference to have been a saddening but predictable setback for Sekunjalo’s internal ombud, Yogas Nair who had justifiably earned the respect of her peers.

‘Accountability is sacrosanct’

When she was appointed in February this year, she was profiled in an article headlined ‘Accountability is sacrosanct’.

Not at Sekunjalo Independent Media.

Advocate Michael Donen, who chaired the external inquiry, found that the Tembisa Ten articles had been published recklessly and with no attempt to establish the facts, but Iqbal Survé brushed off his suggestion that Rampedi should be subjected to disciplinary proceedings.

This is hardly surprising. 

As Siphiwe Nodwele pointed  out in his sworn Mpati Commission testimony, Iqbal Survé dictates the content of his newspapers and he needs  Pretoria News  editor Piet Rampedi, one of his most obsequious imbongis, to take his war against the CR17 faction and Pravin Gordhan on behalf of his supporters such as Ace Magashule  and the Zuma faction of the ANC into the heart of the nation’s capital.

All in all, Iqbal Survé’s ‘Tembisa Ten’ media conference was deeply suspect and the Daily Maverick’s Rebecca Davis said she left it ‘feeling dirty’- a sentiment I had never heard expressed before under such circumstances.

In the meantime, questions continue to be raised about the ever-increasing default debt of Sekunjalo Independent Media.

Geordin Hill-Lewis, a DA member of the parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance, asked the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) what progress it had made in liquidating the hopelessly insolvent Sekunjalo Independent Media which is in such dire financial straits that it has cut the post-retirement medical aid contributions for its retired employees by 50%:




1903.   Mr G G Hill-Lewis (DA) to ask the Minister of Finance: 

What is the (a) current status of the Public Investment Corporation’s liquidation proceedings against Sekunjalo Independent Media and (b) cause of delay of the proceedings?                                      



  1. The liquidation proceedings have been stayed and are pending before the Western Cape High Court, Cape Town.
  2. In the course of the liquidation proceedings, certain factual allegations emerged that caused a factual dispute which could not be resolved on paper or affidavit in the application. This necessitated that the liquidation application be held in abeyance pending action proceedings, which were instituted for purposes of resolving the factual dispute.

What this refers to is the story broken by Dewald van Rensburg of amaBhungane which was headlined Dr Dan Matjila’s secret deal to make Iqbal Survé’s R700m debt to PIC disappear.

Similarly ensnared, it seems, was trade union Sactwu and this raises a justifiable and perhaps not-irrelevant question given the damning evidence revealed at the Mpati Commission: Has Iqbal Survê ever negotiated in good faith? 

One wonders what Survé’s remaining business associates such as Standard Bank and Siemens and the government of Finland make of this and the ‘Babies for Muti’ phantasm and whether, as a consequence, they will follow the example of ABSA and FNB and Sasol and the local branch of the global telecommunications group, BT (formerly British Telecoms) and his auditors BDO, and his former lawyers, ENS and Webber Wentzel, and sever ties with the man who has done so much harm to media credibility in this country

[Photo: Noseweek]


Ed Herbst is an author and veteran journalist.