It’s tough to imagine there’s anyone out there that doesn’t despise the Guptas (puppets aside), but in case you were somehow on the fence then let’s take a look at scandal number 1723.
Or thereabouts, you get the point.
Scorpio and amaBhungane are the driving force behind the #GuptaLeaks that reveal the depths of our nation’s plight on the daily, but it is their interviews with women who used to work with the Guptas that we will focus on here.
The harassment was so bad that one woman resigned after just 24 hours – some of her account below via the Daily Maverick:
“It was the worst 24 hours of my life.”
…Christine [not her real name] said that on the first – and only – day of working for Tony Gupta, she was required to accompany him from Johannesburg on what would be an overnight business trip to Cape Town. On the Guptas’ private jet, Tony Gupta did not speak to her at all. Upon arrival at a house in Cape Town, she was offered a Coke to drink and told that she was not allowed to use her cellphone at any time.
“I couldn’t even let my husband know I was there safely,” Christine remembers. She was then instructed to go into a bedroom for a “meeting” with Tony Gupta.
“He told me that all his PAs are expected to give him massages and sleep in the same bed as him,” Christine says. “I told him I was not comfortable with that and would prefer my own bed and bathroom. He then asked me to give him a massage. I declined.”
She says that throughout her time in the house, she was offered no food but continuously urged to accept Cokes to drink.
“I had another Coke and I don’t know what happened, but it was like I had been drinking [alcohol],” Christine says.
While Tony Gupta had a meeting in another part of the house, he allegedly proceeded to lock Christine in the bedroom. By now thoroughly frightened – and unable to shake the suspicion that her drinks might have been spiked with something – Christine used her cellphone to call her husband and tell him what was happening.
“[Tony Gupta] walked in and asked me what I was doing. He told me I wasn’t allowed to be on the phone.” Desperately seeking an excuse to leave, Christine told him that her grandmother had unexpectedly died. “He put his arms around me and said ‘You’re not going’,” she says.
Another woman intervened and Christine was eventually allowed to leave, tending her resignation immediately and citing sexual harassment.
When her husband confronted the Guptas about the incident he was handed R10 000 and told to “go away”.
That was apparently not unusual behaviour, with another PA confirming that such sexual harassment was commonplace. In addition, the PA also said that cash payments to prevent stories from going public was also run of the mill.
Let’s finish with the story of Janet (not her real name), who said all three of the brothers “tried their luck with me”:
Ajay Gupta [below], Janet said, “tried to get me to touch him inappropriately.” Tony Gupta allegedly tried to blackmail her into sexual favours if she wished to keep her job…
“I kept this information to myself in fear of losing my job, which I really needed back then,” Janet says. “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.”
Ajay Gupta, Janet says, 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.”
I don’t imagine she found very much down there.
Janet was also allegedly asked to “entertain” high profile guests.
“I am not sure what they expected, as I refused to hear any of it and just said no before details were discussed,” she says.
Utter, utter creeps.
In 2011 Sahara Computers, a company owned by the family, was actually taken to court and charges of sexual harassment were laid. The woman claimed that “Sahara failed to create a safe workplace environment”.
The judge sided with her and awarded the plaintiff R60 000 plus costs.
What Gupta bombshell will drop next? I don’t know, but this latest is just another example of how much they and our president have in common.
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