Herman Mashaba. Picture: SOWETAN/SUNDAY WORLD
Herman Mashaba. Picture: SOWETAN/SUNDAY WORLD

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba wants the Guptas to answer in court for their alleged racial slurs against black South Africans.

Speaking in his personal capacity on Sunday, Mashaba said he had written an open letter on June 11 to Shaun Abrahams‚ the national director of public prosecutions‚ giving him 60 days to take action against the Guptas after disclosures of their corrupt activities and alleged racist behaviour towards black South Africans.

“To date I have received no response from him or the National Prosecuting Authority. To me‚ it is clear that Adv Abrahams does not regard the allegations against the Guptas as serious,” said Mashaba.

“I have therefore taken the decision to approach our courts with the intention of seeking legal recourse against the Gupta brothers‚ Atul and Ajay‚ for their alleged racial slurs against black South Africans‚” he said.

Mashaba said he had recently had a chance to engage with past and present employees of “Gupta TV [ANN7, now Afro World View] who have relayed to me numerous accounts in which the station’s bosses allegedly uttered racial slurs against black employees, and black South Africans in general”.

“Whilst these employees have requested, for now, that their identities remain protected from the media, they have indicated to me their willingness to come forward and relay their horrific accounts at the hands of the Guptas and their associates for the purpose of court action. They have also indicated the toxic work environment they experienced at the Midrand offices of Gupta TV,” he said.

MultiChoice is due to announce in August the winning bidder for a new 24-hour black-owned news channel.

In February, MultiChoice, which owns DStv, called for interested parties to register their intention to bid for the channel. This was after DStv said it would not renew its contract with the controversial formerly Gupta-owned ANN7 (now Afro Worldview) when it expires in August 2018.

Late in 2017, Lawyers for Human Rights and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation lodged a complaint of racism against Rajesh Gupta with the Human Rights Commission. The two groups had approached the ANC to lead the complaint against Gupta for allegedly “referring to his employees as monkeys and causing them much distress”, but the party refused.

Mashaba said on Sunday the Guptas’s alleged racism is corroborated by Rajesh Sundaram, a former editor at “Gupta TV, whose account of discriminatory and unfair working conditions, mainly affecting young black employees as well as migrant Indian workers, is captured in his book Indentured: Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV.”

Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs is due to receive a progress report on the naturalisation of the Gupta family from the parliamentary research and legal services unit on Tuesday.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za