The expedited visas are interesting, though not news:
“I was told the visa would bypass normal procedure, that our details will be sent to [Gupta lieutenant] Ashu Chawla in SA, who will speak with high commission officials here, direct government departments to expedite visa and bypass some requirements,” Sundaram told the commission.
“To my surprise my visa was cleared quickly in a matter of days. I was not interviewed in any point, nor my colleagues, by the High Commission of SA in New Delhi. The normal procedure was bypassed for these visas.”
Sundaram relates how one of the Gupta brothers became irate because they had to wait for Zuma who was in another meeting, and they threatened to leave, but were then told Zuma would be available in a few minutes.
He actually wrote a whole book on ANN7, none of which has been refuted.
Some dark humour:
Sundaram says he had raised an issue about not yet having presenters, and the only option would then have been to hire journalists at a higher salary, but the Guptas and co were "very suspicious of the journalists. They thought that they would not toe the line that they wanted to".
Sundaram: "So that's when Atul Gupta got up and suggested 'Let's hire models'..."
Sundaram says Gupta than said there's a modelling agency "that is something that we've used in the past, ask them to send a dozen models and we will train them to be presenters".
Sundaram says he had raised objections at the time about their experience and the quality of the news they would deliver - he did not want ANN7 to become a laughing stock.
Sundaram says his objections were overruled, like many others.
One of the Gupta brothers told former a consulting editor of the now defunct ANN7, Rajesh Sundaram, that he had the government in his pocket and was not be bothered by any legalities.
In his second day on the witness stand on Tuesday, Sundaram told the state-capture commission of inquiry how the Gupta family illegally shipped in labourers from India to SA to work on their 24-hour news channel.
He noted that a large number of the labourers came from India on tourist visas and worked in setting up ANN7, which he dismissed as a “mafia and propaganda station”.
Sundaram said the employees were all paid in cash in India before coming to SA. “This is something I know is a pure violation of tax laws in India.”