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Home Affairs: ANN7 visa probe complete

Earlier this month EWN uncovered evidence the network had flouted immigration laws.

Africa News Network 7. Picture: ANN7

JOHANNESBURG - Minister of Home Affairs Naledi Pandor said her department has completed its investigation into allegations of visa irregularities at 24-hour news channel Africa News Network 7 (ANN7).

Earlier this month, Eyewitness News uncovered evidence that some of the channel's staff from India had allegedly entered the country on holiday visas while others had entered on intra-company transfer visas, but did not meet the criteria.

Pandor has not said when she would release the findings of her probe.

"Yes the investigation has now been completed. I'm looking at the report, and if I decide to take any particular action, the media will be the first to know."

'WIDESPREAD VISA IRREGULARITIES'

The Eyewitness News investigation followed allegations made by former ANN7 consulting editor Rajesh Sundaram who accused the channel of widespread visa irregularities when he left the country earlier this month.

Sundaram alleged that the visa process was being purposely undermined by ANN7's parent company Infinity Media and its Indian shareholder, Essel Media.

But at the time Infinity Media maintained all its paperwork was in order and dismissed the claims as those of 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 placed on high commission officials in New Delhi to speed up the visa process.

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

Howa said the company was relying on the skills of Essel Media to operate its world class systems installed at the channel for which he says little local expertise exists.

But it's been established the staff brought in on intra-company transfer visas have no previous employment with Infinity Media or Essel Media, a requirement for this type of visa.

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