06/07/2017 06:34 SAST | Updated 06/07/2017 06:34 SAST

Shock Sexual Harrasment Claims Against The Guptas

One woman claimed it wasn't unusual for the Guptas to offer payment to women to make the complaints disappear.

RODGER BOSCH via Getty Images
Thousands of people march through the city centre, to the South African Parliament, waving South African flags and banners, calling for the South African president to step down on April 7, 2017, in Cape Town. The protest comes after South African President Jacob Zuma dismissed widely respected South African Minister of finance, Pravin Gordhan in a cabinet reshuffle. The move by Zuma has caused the South African economy to be given a 'junk' rating by two of the international financial ratings agencies widely seen as a move to allow a controversial nuclear deal with Russia to go through, as well as allowing the Gupta family to buy a bank in the country, neither of which Gordhan would allow as Minister of Finance. A cut-out poster of Atul Gupta is visible. / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)

The Gupta brothers and some of their employees have been accused of damning allegations of sexual harassment, with women interviewed by Scorpio and amaBhungane telling of instances where they were asked to perform sexual favours, and in one case, where a Gupta company settled a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Scorpio and amaBhungane reported for Daily Maverick on Thursday that one woman worked for the Guptas for 24 hours before resigning – her letter forms part of the leaked Gupta emails.

"It was the worst 24 hours of my life," the woman reportedly said.

She alleged that she was required to accompany Tony Gupta to Cape Town, where she was not allowed to use her cell phone and was asked to massage him. She refused, and eventually managed to contact family and hid in a bush before they fetched her.

She was also afraid she had been drugged.

Her resignation letter, part of the emails, read: "I, [Name], [ID number], hereby hand in my resignation letter with immediate effect under the circumstances of Sexual Harassment."

Another PA contacted by Scorpio alleged these kinds of incidents were common and said the Guptas often offered cash payouts to make complaints disappear.

A third woman interviewed said all three Gupta brothers "tried their luck with me."

She reportedly said: "I kept this information to myself in fear of losing my job, which I really needed back then/ But now that I think of it I was given 'gifts' to keep me quiet. After every [inappropriate] incident, I would get a small 'payback' for all my hard work."

She alleged that Ajay Gupta would "force himself on me and kiss me multiple times. I eventually just let it happen to make sure I didn't lose my job. He would put my hand down his pants."

In 2011, Sahara Computers, a Gupta firm, reportedly paid R60 000 in damages to an employee who alleged suffered persistent sexual harassment at the hands of a male employee.

The Guptas did not respond to requests from Scorpio and amaBhungane for comment.