The SABC's Auckland Park headquarters. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
The SABC's Auckland Park headquarters. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

The former CEO of the Guptas' Oakbay Investments, Nazeem Howa, mocked SABC executives for being “so stupid” in letting the family use its archival footage for their now-defunct new channel ANN7, the state capture commission heard on Tuesday.

Former ANN7 consulting editor Rajesh Sundaram detailed how Howa boasted about a “very sweet deal for archives” they had clinched with the public broadcaster.

The archival content was about 100 hours long, he said, and was worth “billions of dollars”.

Sundaram said it was very surprising that this took place just as the SABC was about to launch its own 24-hours news channel. He questioned why the public broadcaster would then decide to “give a huge supply of oxygen to a rival”.

Howa told Sundaram that he got the archives through the Guptas’ influence. He said SABC officials knew the Guptas had the blessing and backing of former president Jacob Zuma.

Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, who is chairing the commission of inquiry into state capture, has heard several allegations that Zuma and his son, Duduzane Zuma, did the family’s bidding in business deals. Duduzane Zuma is a business partner of the Guptas.

“[Howa] said [the SABC] is so stupid that it has given us this deal.”

Each time ANN7 used the archival footage it was supposed to pay royalties to the SABC. But there was no monitoring system for the SABC to check how many minutes of footage had been used and how much was due to it, he said.

“There was no way the SABC could know how much footage had been used. That footage was about 100 hours. It would have cost billions of dollars.” 

Sundaram stressed that the deal was because the SABC officials knew the Gupta brothers were close to Zuma.

“The SABC exposed themselves to fraud, knowingly. The SABC officials knew the Guptas were close to the president, they didn't want to ask too many questions.”