Piet Rampedi has apologised after the story turned out to be fake (Image: Instagram)

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A journalist who broke the story of a mum giving birth to 10 babies has apologised after it turned out to be untrue.

Pretoria News editor Piet Rampedi said he was "full of sadness and regret" over the scoop which, he said, damaged Independent Media’s reputation.

Gosiame Sithole, 37, hit headlines around the world following reports she had "given birth to 10 babies at a Pretoria hospital".

Doubts, however, were raised because medics had no record of the birth and Pretoria News did not have any evidence that the children actually existed.

Ms Sithole has since been admitted to a psychiatric ward after being found at a relative's house on June 17.

Gosiame Sithole claimed to have given birth to 10 children
(Image: Newsflash)

The journalist said he is convinced the woman was pregnant and gave birth – just not to 10 babies.

He said he wrote the article as a "feel-good story", but he now thinks he should have treated it as an investigative piece.

Mr Rampedi wrote a letter to the editor-in-chief of the group which owns his newspaper, saying: "Let me start by stating from the onset that I stand by the fact that Gosiame Sithole was pregnant, and that she did give birth. I don’t doubt it and never have.

"Be that as it may, I am sorry for the reputational damage the aftermath of the story has caused for the group, the company and my colleagues in general."

Ms Sithole with estranged partner Teboho Tsotetsi
(Image: Newsflash)

He added: "I never demanded documentary proof of the pregnancy, such as scanners and clinic cards, for instance, as I would normally do with an investigative story. There was nothing to investigate, I thought."

The letter continued: "To be blunt, the story provided detractors with an opportunity to cast aspersions on the professional integrity of not only myself, but also my colleagues in the group.

"For that, I am extremely sorry. It was unfortunate.

She was admitted to a psychiatric ward
(Image: Newsflash)

"And I would like to apologise to you, my colleagues and the group."

An official inquiry found the claim that the South African woman gave birth to 10 babies earlier this month was false.

A statement from the provincial government said no hospitals in the Guateng province had any record of decuplets being born.

Medical tests also showed that Ms Sithole had not been pregnant recently, BBC News reports.

A reason behind the fabrication of the story has not been given.

The woman is now being held under the mental health act for observation and will be provided with support.