Ex-ANN7 editor Sundaram 'has an axe to grind', says former colleague

2019-06-04 19:19
Moegsien Williams. (Supplied)

Moegsien Williams. (Supplied)

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WATCH: Former ANN7 editor continues testimony at state capture inquiry

2019-06-04 10:35

ANN7’s former editor, Rajesh Sundaram, is continuing his testimony at the state capture inquiry.WATCH

Former ANN7 editor Rajesh Sundaram, who was tasked with kick-starting the channel, has been accused of having an axe to grind and justifying his "lack of success" at the now defunct TV channel.

This is according to an affidavit written by former ANN7 editor-in-chief Moegsien Williams.

During Sundaram's testimony on Tuesday, evidence leader advocate Thandi Norman SC read out parts of Williams' affidavit.

In it, Williams said he considered allegations made by Sundaram in a serious light, adding that his reputation might now be destroyed as a consequence of "allegations made by an individual who has an axe to grind".

Sundaram alleged that Williams was part of a delegation that attended meetings at former president Jacob Zuma's official residence in Pretoria to discuss ANN7's editorial policy and the design of the studio.  

ALSO READ: ANN7 launch was a disaster, ex-editor tells inquiry

But in his affidavit, Williams said it was incorrect that they had discussed matters of editorial policy with the president, adding that they had visited the president like any other media house would. He said the delegation only visited the president's residence on one occasion.

Williams also said, based on what he had read, it appeared Sundaram had been unsuccessful in getting a job after his brief tenure at ANN7 and that he relied on the sale of his book. He added that he might well be "motivated by immense dislike of the Gupta family and, in particular, Mr Atul Gupta". 

Williams said Sundaram was primarily responsible for the "disastrous" launch of the television station. 

Former ANN7 editor Rajesh Sundaram at the judicial
Former ANN7 editor Rajesh Sundaram at the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture. (Jeanette Chabalala/News24)

"Apart from having spent three months in the country, having not been very successful as an editor of ANN7, having a tumultuous relationship with his employers, having left the Republic under a cloud, Mr Sundaram seems to justify his lack of success at ANN7 with reference to allegations which are simply not true in a book he wishes to sell and to protect a professional reputation," his affidavit reads.  

But Sundaram hit back and said that he had read Williams' affidavit and called it a "bunch of half-truths and absolute lies".

"He is lying in his affidavit... I stand by whatever I said in my affidavit," he testified.  

Sundaram said the meetings that Williams was disputing could be verified by obtaining the records of people visiting the president's residency.

READ: Zuma had hands-on role in running of ANN7, inquiry hears

"He is denying that he engaged in commercial discussions with the president and I can understand why he is doing that because then he would be implicating himself. I have clearly said he was part of the first meeting at the presidency's residence," he testified.

Sundaram added that he had explained in his book, Indentured - Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV, that the "disastrous launch or a train wreck as I call it" was because of Atul Gupta micro-managing him.

"The technicians were under tremendous pressure. The reason why the launch at ANN7 was a disaster was because of Atul Gupta ignoring professional advice," he said.

He added that the fact that Williams does not want to cross-examine him "speaks volumes".

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Read more on:    ann7  |  rajesh sundaram  |  moegsien williams  |  state capture inquiry
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