First On EWN: ANN7 flouts visa laws

EWN has uncovered seven ANN7 employees are working on visitor visas.


JOHANNESBURG - An Eyewitness News investigation has uncovered blatant flouting of immigration laws by the Gupta-owned Infinity Media, the parent company of the 24 hour news channel Africa News Network 7 (ANN7).

Former consulting editor for the network Rajesh Sundaram made allegations of widespread visa irregularities when he left the country earlier this month.

ANN7 management brought in about two dozen production professionals from its Indian shareholder to help get the channel off the ground.

Sundaram said his colleagues who joined him from India did not have the required documentation to work in South Africa.

He further alleged that pressure was also placed on high commission officials in New Delhi to speed up the visa process.

But the network's management has maintained all its paperwork is in order and dismissed the claims as being from a disgruntled employee.

Eyewitness News confirmed that Home Affairs immigration database lists four Indian ANN7 employees who stated 'holiday' as their reason for being in South Africa.

But the employees are all newsroom staff and Sundaram says they're not the only ones working illegally.

Home Affairs Director General Mkuseli Apleni confirmed the status of a further three names.

"Seven people have come in on a visitor's visa and with this type of visa employment is prohibited."

He says the department may investigate the channel and appeared unaware of a complaint lodged by Sundaram two weeks ago.

Infinity Media's Nazeem Howa did not respond to the allegations.

Sundaram fled the country earlier this month claiming he had been intimidated and his life had been threatened at the station.