/ 28 October 2022

Did missing decuplets cost the mayor his job?

Runner: Former mayor Mzwandile Masina has finally made an appearance. Photo: OJ Koloti/Gallo Images


It’s been a year and a day since the famous — and thus far invisible — Tembisa Ten were born, or at least so we were told.

A whole rotation of the Earth plus a degree or two has taken place since we were introduced to the decuplets — almost — and were subsequently informed that they had disappeared, in a pitter patter of tiny feet, to destinations unknown.

The babies, bless their little hearts, haven’t been seen or heard from since — something like Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina, who disappeared not that long after they did. 

I would have thought they would have turned up by now — Pieter, Klein Piet, Jong Piet and Pietness, Pietronella, Pietman, Pietertjie, Pietra, Pietnyana and — of course Piet My Vrou — the alleged 10 bundles of joy that warmed our hearts, albeit briefly, as a nation.

I’m starting to get worried about them.

At least Masina, who has been the invisible man since the Ten did a runner and the ANC lost Ekurhuleni shortly afterwards, is showing his face in public again.

Perhaps it was Masina’s stance in throwing his weight — and that of his office — behind the whole 10 babies-being-stolen story that really cost the ANC the metro last November, rather than his poor leadership and the collapse of municipal services on his watch.

Perhaps Masina’s decision to involve himself and the metro in the whole fairy tale was the proverbial last straw — the final act of stupidity and arrogance that forced voters in the metro over the edge and into the waiting hands of the Democratic Alliance and its coalition partners.

One never knows.

I had hoped — despite knowing better — that the Ten would have finally made a public appearance this week.

I would have even settled for a video of the little ones in The Star’s Sauer Street crèche, taking baby steps towards becoming Staff Reporters of tomorrow, to mark the auspicious date of their first birthday.

I was amped, actually, when I got a reminder about their birthday from Facebook, hoped that we would somehow be granted a glimpse of the little ones, a few seconds of happy gurgling while the proud parents looked on — all teeth and grins — drinking in the nation’s love, live and direct.

Instead, we got, well nothing,

No 10-candle birthday cake.

No balloons, no jumping castle, nothing — not even a used Pampers — to show us that the 10 were alive and well and living and more than a figment of somebody’s rather fertile imagination.


Not even an uncomfortable silence.

It’s as if the twins were spirited away — or abducted by aliens — or as if they never existed in the first place.

Perhaps the Alleged Ten will reappear now that Masina is attempting to get back into the mayor’s parlour through the no-confidence motions that are flying in the Gauteng metros like water bottles at a collapsed council meeting.

Perhaps we’re being impatient and they will appear in good time, all 10 of them, in cute little Ekurhuleni metro expanded public works programme babygrows, with matching woollen hats.


Things are getting rough in coalition country — fluid, and nasty — with mayors being chopped and changed like Tory prime ministers.

Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse may have lasted a touch longer than Liz Truss — whose term of office was shorter than the lifespan of a common or garden lettuce — but her successor, Dada Morero, didn’t.

The new mayor didn’t finish a full month at the helm of the city before the court declared his election unlawful and ordered him to vacate the parlour, with immediate effect.

That must be a tough one. You’re mayor when you order a coffee but by the time it arrives you’re an ordinary khansela. No more blue lights, bodyguards and mayoral chain, a small panic as you try and work out how to get home now that the state vehicle is gone.

I wonder if Dada was mayor long enough to actually draw a salary? If mayors are people of the 15th, he at least got one paycheck. If not, will it go to Phalatse on the 31st — if she’s still mayor, that is? Or will they each get a portion of it, on a pro rata basis, for the number of days served as Johannesburg’s number one citizen?

I wonder who will get the bill for replacing the locks that Dada changed when he got the keys to the parlour last month?

Phalatse’s account?

Or will the ratepayers, once again, be picking up the tab for the machinations of our political class?

One assumes — as always — the latter.