Brendan Seery
Deputy Editor
3 minute read
21 Jun 2021
5:35 am

Tembisa 10 saga: when words fail journalism

Brendan Seery

The fictional ‘Tembisa 10’ babies degenerated into a polarising narrative, where Piet Rampedi accuses anyone who questions it racist.

Gosiame Sithole before the 'birth'. Picture: Twitter/PietRampedi

Sometime in the early ’90s, in a fit of pique, the editor of The Star newspaper, Richard Steyn, ripped down a photograph from the newsroom notice board, which I had only pinned there a few hours earlier. It was from the Durban Daily News, accompanying a story about a fireman rescuing a huge Rottweiler from floods and carrying it to safety on his shoulders. I had scribbled on it: “She ain’t heavy, she’s my mother…” And that was what made Steyn see red – a reminder of one of the most embarrassing pieces of journalism in the history of the...