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Home Affairs launches ANN7 visa probe

Home Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa says ANN7 management will be questioned.

A screenshot of an ANN7 news anchor during a live bulletin riddled with errors

PRETORIA - The Department of Home Affairs on Monday confirmed it has launched an investigation into visa irregularities at the Gupta-owned 24-hour news channel Africa News Network 7 (ANN7).

This after Eyewitness News uncovered the network flouted immigration law.

So far, seven staff members have been confirmed to have entered the country on visitor visas.

Such visas prohibit people from seeking employment.

Former ANN7 consulting editor 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 placed on high commission officials in New Delhi to speed up the visa process.

But parent company Infinity Media's Nazeem Howa maintains all paperwork is in order.

He says ANN7 is fully compliant with regards to all employment issues.

Home Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa says ANN7 management will be questioned.

"We will be investigating the allegations levelled against ANN7. We will then determine whether there is any wrongdoing or otherwise."

Immigration attorney Julian Pokroy says the penalties for employers flouting these laws are severe.

"For a first offence, they would be liable for a fine and a third offence would result in up to three years imprisonment without the option of a fine."