Infinity Media dismisses visa claims

The company which owns ANN7 is accused of deliberately flouting immigration laws.

ANN7 whistleblower, Rajesh Sundaram. Picture: Facebook

JOHANNESBURG - Parent company of 24-hour news channel Africa News Network 7 (ANN7), Infinity Media, dismissed reports of it flouting immigration laws as sensational.

The Gupta-owned company says it will cooperate with an investigation into the allegations by the Department of Home Affairs.

Eyewitness News can reveal at least 14 of the company's 36 non-South African staff have questions to answer surrounding their entry into the country.

Home Affairs confirmed seven employees entered the country on visitor's permits, which prohibit employment, while Eyewitness News has established another seven do not meet the criteria for intra-company transfer visas.

Infinity Media's Nazeem Howa has downplayed the reports saying Eyewitness News only focused on a handful out of 200 employees.

Howa said the company is relying on the skills of its Indian shareholder Essel Media to operate their world class systems installed at the channel for which he says little local expertise exist.

This type of visa allows a company to transfer its employees between branches or affiliated businesses between countries.

Immigration attorney Julian Pokroy said intra-company transfer visas are much easier to obtain than work permits.

But he said companies usually apply for a general work permit a few months after a foreigner has been working in the country because waivers on permit requirements kick in.

Howa didn't respond to specific questions relating to these allegations.

On Monday, an Eyewitness News investigation revealed how seven Indian employees entered the country on visitor's visas.

The findings are consistent with claims made by former ANN7 consulting editor for the network, Rajesh Sundaram, earlier this month.

Sundaram alleged that the visa process was being purposely undermined by Infinity Media and its Indian shareholder.

But at the time, the network's management maintained all its paperwork was in order and dismissed the claims as being from a disgruntled employee.

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.

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