In an effort to put to rest any "suspicions of lingering involvement" by the Gupta family in ANN7 and The New Age, owner Mzwanele Manyi released a statement on Sunday saying he had paid his debt to the family.
According to TimesLive, Manyi said that in an effort to save 500 jobs, he wanted to clarify that he no longer owed the Guptas any money, and they were no longer a part of the television station and newspaper.
He reportedly said that the amount owed had been renegotiated, lowers and then settled. He initially purchased the media companies with R450-million lent to him by the Gupta family in a vendor financial arrangement.
"Consequently‚ Afrotone Media Holdings' [Manyi's company] ownership of Infinity Media Networks‚ ANN7 and The New Age is now debt-free and unencumbered ... As a truly South African 100% black-owned and -managed company‚ these developments strengthen Afrotone Media Holdings' position to realise the benefits of this strategic acquisition," the statement reportedly read.
The New Age and ANN7, like many other Gupta-owned firms, have fallen on hard times since the Guptas left the country in the wake of revelations about their alleged role in state capture.
IOL reported in March that journalists at the two media institutions went on a go-slow because they were not paid.
Their woes were worsened by an announcement by MultiChoice that it was dropping ANN7 from its bouquet – a decision Manyi promised to fight in court, according to The Citizen.
At the time of the purchase, many Gupta-owned firms were on the ropes, with all major South African banks closing their accounts, and the Bank of Baroda doing the same in 2017. According to Fin24, the Guptas said the sale of ANN7 and The New Age was to "provide certainty to over 7,500 hard-working employees."
The Gupta's Oakbay Investments, which owned the media companies, reportedly said at the time: "Under a new majority shareholder, Oakbay believes that both businesses and their employees will have the bright and prosperous future they deserve. The sale will also allow the shareholder the time to focus on clearing its name in the face of unfounded media allegations."