The former offices of the Gupta-owned ANN7 news channel and The New Age newspaper are reportedly being stripped of valuables by Afrotone, according to businessman Nazeer Noormohamed, who purchased the offices through an auction process.
According to a report by the City Press, Noormohamed argued that the building’s auctioneers were in breach of contract and said he was considering cancelling the purchase.
He claimed that Afrotone is stripping the building of a variety of valuable items, from satellite broadcasting hardware to air conditioning units.
“After learning that the assets of the property were being stripped, on behalf of the existing tenant or their representatives, we called the auctioneers, who said that they were not responsible for securing the building,” Noormohamed said.
After visiting the property, he found 15 air conditioners being taken and loaded onto a truck.
A large central cooling system had also been removed from the property along with three large transformers.
Noormohamed said that he was still interested in acquiring the property, but only provided that all fixed assets are reinstalled.
When reached for a response by City Press, Afrotone Media Holdings chair Mzwanele Manyi said he had “moved on”, and the company’s director – Sifiso Mthethwa – said that they had only removed moveable assets from the building.
Mthethwa did not clarify whether Afrotone regarded air conditioning units, transformers, and cooling systems as moveable assets.
Following the claims that Afrotone was stripping the offices of all valuable items, including fixed assets, Noormohamed said he would demand the R8-million deposit he paid for the building be given back.
While Noormohamed said that his lawyers were discussing cancelling the sale with the auctioneers, the auctioneers who conducted the sale said they were unaware the sale was being cancelled.
Following the exodus of the Gupta family from South Africa amid allegations of state capture, ANN7 and The New Age newspaper were acquired by Afrotone Media Holdings.
Afrotone owner Mzwanele Manyi planned to break away from the past of the channel, rebranding ANN7 and The New Age as Afro Worldview and Afro Voice respectively.
Shortly after this announcement, Manyi demanded R144 million from the SABC, stating that the money was owed to the Guptas for their participation in the state broadcaster’s business breakfast shows.
Only a few months after the rebranding, Manyi filed to liquidate Afro Voice after failing to realise plans to make the entity financially profitable.