Siyabonga Cwele. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Siyabonga Cwele. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

An employee of the Gupta-associated TV station ANN7 approached the South African Post Office (Sapo) in August, requesting a meeting with the CEO to discuss the opening of a bank account for the company.

ANN7, and various companies owned by the Guptas, face an uncertain future following decisions by SA’s major banks to cut ties with the family.

The family has been accused of state capture, wielding undue influence on President Jacob Zuma and his Cabinet, and milking state-owned enterprises for the benefit of their companies.

Earlier in October, the High Court in Pretoria ordered the Bank of Baroda, the last bank to continue offering services to the Guptas, not to close the accounts of companies linked to the family pending a final application. The Bank of Baroda was to pull the plug on the accounts of 20 companies on September 30.

The companies approached the High Court in Pretoria to have the main application, meant to be heard in December interdicting the bank from closing the accounts, heard before the deadline for the closure of the accounts.

In a written response to a question from the DA in Parliament, Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele confirmed Sapo had been approached by Gupta-linked firms. He did not name the employees involved.

"An employee from a company called JIC Limited approached Postbank with a request to open a bank account…. Postbank established, based on the JIC Limited’s financial statements, that it was part of the Oakbay Group. Postbank responded in August 2016 that it does not service corporate accounts because it is purely a retail bank that only serves individuals," said Cwele on Monday.

"Further, an employee of ANN7 approached Sapo in August 2017, requesting a meeting with the Sapo group CEO to discuss the opening of a bank account…. Sapo indicated that Postbank was unable to open or service corporate accounts because it is purely a retail bank that only serves individuals."

The new owner of ANN7 and The New Age, Mzwanele Manyi, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

In response to a question from DA MP Alf Lees, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said South African Airways did not have a direct contract with The New Age for the supply of newspapers. However, the airline had a month-to-month contract with Press Support for the supply of readership material.

"The contract with Press Support in respect of The New Age newspaper costs R165,690 per month excluding VAT."

phakathib@businesslive.co.za

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