More than 90 employees are stuck in limbo after being lured into an allegedly sham news television channel by Channon Merricks.
The business is the owner of Vila Kasi Holdings – the new 24-hour news channel to be aired on the DSTv MultiChoice platform. The program is due to launch next month, but the owner was accused of fraud when some employees spoke up about not getting paid for three months. The accusation was supported by the fact that the workers arrived at the supposed studio but found it empty of equipment.
ANN7’s former news reporter Fahraaz Patel spoke on behalf of the employees. He said that the first group of workers started in June and the next group began earlier this month.
Patel called the new channel a scam and stated that those involved were duped by a “professional fraudster.”
Other professionals also spoke up, such as Deeno Naidoo, owner of Blue Indian Pictures. He claimed that he had not been paid his dues of more than $2,000. Telecommunications specialists Tebogo Rametse and Trudy Mackay-Sekokotla also asserted that they had been duped.
Vila Kasi spoke on the issue by posting a statement on their Facebook page. “To my knowledge, there has not been any worker who has gone two months without a salary. Those workers can show you or a bank statement from the union. We will launch on August 1. Why is the competition interested in our equipment? Do they want to tamper with them?”
Footage from The Citizen shows the employees demanding answers from Channon Merricks, who claimed he was being held hostage and did not comment on the matter.
A spokesperson from MultiChoice said that there is no new news channel signed to air in August.
Back in 2012, Channon Merricks was taken to court for fraud on 28 counts and was found not guilty.