Four foreign employees at the Gupta-linked TV station ANN7 were detained for an hour by home affairs’ immigration officials on Tuesday.
They were detained inside a vehicle outside the station’s Johannesburg offices for allegedly not being in possession of proper documents to work in South Africa.
Owner of the TV station Mzwanele Manyi said it was part of a deliberate effort to sabotage him.
“Immigration officers just descended here, without notice,” he said according to IOL. “Instead, they come to a formal business with people with proper documentation and they just want to harass us.
“I am being harassed.”
This is a BLUE LIE. NOT even one ANN7 staff member was arrested.
4 senior staff at ANN7 arrested https://t.co/rQsdJBcMhg
— Mzwanele Manyi (@MzwaneleManyi) March 6, 2018
A source at the news channel said the four Indian journalists were leaving for home after work when they were detained by the officials who had parked outside the station’s gate.
“They had asked the foreign nationals for their passports and when they said they were only carrying their work IDs, the officials asked them to get inside their vehicle,” said the source.
They were detained inside the vehicle for an hour and released afterwards, the source revealed.
“Management spoke to the officials and they went through all documents. I can confirm we’re all on valid visas and we’re not Gupta employees anymore,” the source said.
Indian government asked for ‘protection’
“By virtue of association, we are being harassed,” added the source.
After the detention of four the journalists, ANN7 news editor Abhinav Sahay appealed to the Indian government to “protect” Indian journalists “in distress” in South Africa.
He said they were in the country on valid work visas.
“All of us are under tremendous pressure and trauma,” he said in a video that News24 is in possession of.
“It is very important for us to get the protection that we deserve as legitimate Indian nationals and journalists and to save us from prosecution and harassment in South Africa,” he said.
Home affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete confirmed that the workers had been released.
“Well, we detained them to inspect that they have proper documentation. There was concern about the status of their documentation. Home affairs is still cooperating with management (of the station) to make sure that we have all the documents of everyone who is there and to make sure that all their documents are valid. The investigation is still ongoing,” he said.
He said officials had been following up on an earlier inspection during which people who didn’t have required documents were requested to obtain them.
On February 22, immigration officials visited the station for what they called a routine inspection.
Thabo Mokgola, department spokesperson at the time, said officials visited the station’s studios to verify information related to the visas of certain employees.