Gupta employee got work permit in a day, no queuing either

Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo at the state capture inquiry. The commission is hearing testimony from former ANN7 consulting editor Rajesh Sundaram on June 3 2019.
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo at the state capture inquiry. The commission is hearing testimony from former ANN7 consulting editor Rajesh Sundaram on June 3 2019.
Image: ALON SKUY

Before former ANN7 consulting editor Rajesh Sundaram testified at the state capture inquiry about the inner workings of the Gupta family's propaganda machine, he exposed the family's influence at the department of home affairs.

After taking the stand at the commission on Monday, Sundaram described how he was able to flout normal processes to procure his South African working visa in 2013.

Through the Gupta family's connections, Sundaram - a journalist by trade - said he got his working permit in one day after submitting forms to Sahara chief executive and state-capture-implicated Ashu Chawla.

Sundaram was employed as ANN7's consulting editor in May 2013, a position he was contracted to for two years. His job was to get the station up and running for the Gupta family: setting up the company's organisational structure, interviewing and training staff, and establishing the editorial workflow.

He said he worked out of Infinity Media (the company that owned ANN7) shareholder Laxmi Goel's offices in India for the first month before coming to South Africa.

When it was time to get his work permit, Sundaram said Goel instructed him to submit his security clearances and medical certificates to Chawla. He claimed he was told that Chawla would "speak to high officials" in then president Jacob Zuma's office who would influence the department of home affairs to expedite the process.

Sundaram received his work permit a day after he sent his documentation.

"I was not interviewed at any point… I did not have to even go to the [Indian] High Commission," he said.

The same was done for a team of his Indian colleagues who came to South Africa to work for the Guptas' Infinity Media.

His testimony is continuing.

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