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Zondo inquiry: Zuma link saw ANN7 get SABC archive footage for 'throwaway price'

Former ANN7 News Editor Rajesh Sundaram told the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture that the SABC did a big favour for ANN7, thanks to former President Jacob Zuma.

FILE: Former President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Bertram Malgas/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Former ANN7 news editor Rajesh Sundaram said that the Gupta family used their friendship with former President Jacob Zuma to buy historic archive material from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) worth millions of rands for far less than the material's value.

Sundaram was testifying at the state capture commission about his time at the Gupta-owned channel.

On Monday, he told the inquiry that Zuma was involved in the day-to-day running of the station, more so than his son Duduzane, who was one of the shareholders of the company that owned the station.

Sundaram said the SABC did a big favour for ANN7, thanks to Zuma.

“Footage of this nature would cost in the regions of millions of dollars and the rate at which they got the footage was something which was a throwaway price, which is something that was done as a favour.

“The officials at the SABC knew that the Gupta brothers were close to President Zuma.”

He said that buying such footage for peanuts made him ask questions.

“Why would you want to give footage at a discount to a potential rival? Footage of this nature can’t be valued at a blanket basis.”

Last year, the SABC board instituted a forensic investigation into the purchase of the archive footage by ANN7.

SABC COULD NOT MONITOR HOW ANN7 USED ARCHIVE FOOTAGE

A former senior SABC sales representative also testified that the broadcaster could not monitor how clients used their archive footage and, as a result, the organisation might have lost revenue in the process.

Josais Scott worked at the public broadcaster for 25 years and was responsible for overseeing the controversial deal to sell over 2,000 minutes of archive footage to defunct news channel ANN7.

He said ANN7 could have used more footage than the broadcaster paid for.

“There’s just no way that we could have sent somebody out to their offices to check each and every bit of footage,” Scott said.

Asked if it would be possible to find for how many times the footage had been used, he said: “We relied on the honesty of the clients.”

'SABC COULD HAVE BEEN ROBBED OF REVENUE'

Zondo said he was concerned the SABC had no mechanism to verify whether certain TV companies were paying enough for using the corporation's archives.

He said it was worrying that the broadcaster may have been cheated.

“The SABC could have been robbed of revenue that it could have obtained. It suffered a loss and didn’t gain that revenue,” said Zondo.

WATCH LIVE: Rajesh Sundaram reveals details of ANN7 operations

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)

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