Guptas’ Midrand property auctioned for R29.5m
The Guptas are at the centre of state capture investigations after they built a business empire in SA allegedly by leveraging undue influence over the state
A Gupta-owned property in Midrand, which housed Mzwanele Manyi’s now-defunct TNA Media, was auctioned for R29.5m on Wednesday.
The sale comes after the Guptas’ Islandsite Investments 180 vehicle — which holds this and other properties, as well as mining interests and a Cessna aircraft — was placed under business rescue in February along with several other Gupta companies.
The proceeds from Wednesday’s auction were earmarked for Islandsite’s creditors, as part of the business rescue plan.
The Guptas are at the centre of state capture investigations after they built a business empire in SA allegedly by leveraging undue influence over the state.
In late 2007, the family, through Islandsite, bought the Midrand property for R30m.
According to data from Park Village Auctions and GoIndustry DoveBid, the parties which oversaw Wednesday’s auction, the property’s most recent municipal valuation was R26.5m.
It consists of three semi-detached offices and warehouse buildings, and previously housed Manyi’s 24-hour news channel Afro Worldview (formerly ANN7) and his TNA Media business, which traded as AfroVoice, formerly the Gupta-owned The New Age newspaper.
Manyi, a former government spokesperson, acquired the Guptas’ media interests in 2017. However, TNA Media’s revenues largely dried up after Jacob Zuma was replaced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in February.
From February — when Zuma stepped down — to June, TNA’s revenues declined from R5.2m to just R255,650, Manyi said in court documents.
TNA Media was placed under provisional liquidation in July after the company said it was insolvent. The company’s assets, including cameras, laptops and furniture, were auctioned for more than R500,000 on Wednesday after the property was sold.
Manyi’s Afro Worldview stopped airing in August after MultiChoice decided not to renew its contract with the channel because of the “controversies” associated with it. He is now reportedly trying to secure a commercial free-to-air TV licence. Afro Worldview’s equipment was not included in Wednesday’s auction.
Meanwhile, Manyi has been implicated by acting government communications head Phumla Williams, who accused him in August of attempting to influence her testimony at the state capture commission of inquiry.
Williams also told how the government had pumped millions into Gupta-owned media entities during Manyi’s tenure.
The Guptas fled SA to Dubai, the financial hub of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), after allegations of state capture mounted. However, an extradition treaty with the UAE was adopted by parliament earlier in November.
The process to finalise the treaty stalled under the Zuma administration and has been on hold since 2010. It was finally signed by Ramaphosa on September 25. There have already been up to eight requests for mutual assistance between SA and the UAE over allegations of state capture.
Parliament’s justice and correctional services portfolio committee said the treaty came about "after the two countries became deeply concerned about the magnitude of a rising trend in acts of international terrorism and organised crime".