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More evidence in ANN7 visa probe

An EWN investigation has uncovered blatant flouting of immigration laws by ANN7.

Atul Gupta. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News has uncovered more flouting of immigration legislation by the Gupta-owned 24-hour news channel Africa News Network 7 (ANN7), this time relating to employees who entered the country on intra-company transfer visas.

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

But the investigation has shown ANN7 staff on these visas have no prior employment history with the parent company, Infinity Media, or any of its Indian shareholders.

On Monday, an Eyewitness News investigation revealed how seven Indian employees entered the country on visitors' visas, which prohibit employment.

A list of seven ANN7 staff members whose comprehensive and up to date LinkedIn professional networking pages show they all finished their previous terms of employment in June and started at the channel in July.

But none of the previous employers are linked to Infinity Media or its Indian shareholder Essel Media.

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.

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.

On Monday, Home Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said ANN7 management will be questioned.

Infinity Media's Nazeem Howa didn't respond to specific questions instead saying the company would cooperate with an investigation by the Department of Home Affairs.

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