A 37-year-old South African woman broke the Guinness World record by giving birth to 10 babies Tuesday, and the country has been gripped by the mystery surrounding the story for almost a week now with officials still trying to confirm the incredible news.
Gosiame Thamara Sithole from the Tembisa township near Johannesburg gave birth to the babies Monday, according to the Pretoria News newspaper which quoted the parents. The babies – seven boys and three girls – have not made a public appearance or been captured on camera, although they were born prematurely, the newspaper reported.
The South African government said it is still trying to verify the claim.
That's led to South Africans obsessing on social media over whether the story of the "Tembisa 10" is indeed true.
The father, Teboho Tsotetsi, told the paper his wife had given birth in a hospital in the capital Pretoria. He said it was a big surprise for the parents after doctors only detected eight babies in pre-natal 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.
The couple already has 6-year-old twins, which would make the total an even dozen kids, if the claim is true.
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 (AP). "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.
The Department of Social Development in South Africa's Gauteng province confirmed tracing Sithole and spokesperson Feziwe Ndwayana said they 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 broke the story with an interview with Sithole and her husband Tsotetsi at their home, which was conducted nearly a month ago and when they thought they were having eight babies. They requested that the story only be published 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.
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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