There was fear and uncertainty among staff at Gupta-owned broadcaster ANN7 after they were told that they might not be getting their salaries.
An employee at ANN7, who asked not named, said that staff were frightened and had been job hunting without any luck.
“Having ANN7 on our CV’s is a major blow because companies laugh when they call us for interviews,” she said.
“We were told by management at a meeting on Monday that we are getting our salaries at the end of the month. I think everyone is waiting for the 26th of this month to see if it actually happens.
“It’s like we went to school for nothing. Our journalistic integrity is … [done for],” she said.
In a letter to staff, Oakbay Investments CEO Nazeem Howa said the Gupta family had decided to step down from all executive and nonexecutive positions in the company following a period of “sustained political attack” on them and their businesses.
He said it was possible that salaries may not be paid, following the closing of bank accounts.
“The closure of our bank accounts has made it virtually impossible to continue to do business in South Africa,” Howa said in the letter.
“We are doing everything in our power to ensure this does not happen. We find it totally unacceptable that you, our employees, and your families, could potentially have to suffer as a result of the political campaign against us.”
The letter was sent to News24 by an ANN7 staff member. It is believed the letter was sent to all staff working for companies under the Oakbay umbrella.
The letter followed an announcement by the Guptas and President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, that they were resigning from Oakbay Investments and Oakbay Resources and Energy.
Another staffer said that whoever was spreading rumours that ANN7 was going to close had no evidence of that. He said the Gupta brothers had only been friendly towards employees.
“Whenever I met Atul Gupta, he has only been nice to me. He calls me … [by] my first name, and that says a lot,” the staffer said.
On Sunday, City Press reported that Ajay and Atul Gupta, together with their wives and five of their assistants, had left South Africa for Dubai on Thursday evening. They were seen at Lanseria Airport “with a mountain of luggage”.
The family have recently been accused of influencing the appointment of ministers. Cabinet ministers are appointed by President Zuma, who is said to have close ties to the Gupta family.
Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor claimed that the Guptas had offered her the position of public enterprises minister in 2010 while Zuma was in the other room at the family’s Saxonwold home.
Deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas has also claimed that the family offered him then-finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s job.