LISTEN: New podcast takes you inside the #GuptaEmails story

In this three-part podcast titled Stolen, The Times and Sunday Times editors explain how they dealt with the leaked Gupta data – and what's coming next

07 August 2017 - 08:03 By Scott Peter Smith
Business tycoon Atul Gupta, one of the owners of Africa News Network 7.
Business tycoon Atul Gupta, one of the owners of Africa News Network 7.

Not even three months ago the Sunday Times headline "Exposed: explosive Gupta emails at the heart of state capture" alerted South Africans to the existence of a large volume of leaked emails that proved how the notorious Gupta family tried to influence government officials and decisions in their favour.

This week, on Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma faces his seventh vote of no confidence as the country waits to hear whether Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete will allow the fiercely debated secret ballot. Indeed, a national march is taking place to demand it.

On several occasions, Zuma has asked his critics to prove he has done something wrong. In December, while addressing an ANC Youth League rally, he asked: "Tell me what is it that I have done wrong?" 

Now, it seems, there is no shortage of documentation that not only directly implicates the president but also uncovers a vast web of influence and state capture spanning numerous political and business personalities in what many are starting to consider a matter of fact rather than an overblown, exaggerated problem.

The emails show the extent of Gupta control over Cabinet ministers and parastatal CEOs and board members. The correspondence also gives insight into the role of Zuma's son Duduzane in presidential matters. Duduzane, a close Gupta associate, is believed to have made billions through this partnership.

In the first episode of Stolen, our three-part podcast, we take you inside our newsroom and talk to the editors of the Sunday Times and The Times about how they dealt with the roughly 200,000 leaked emails detailing the underpinnings of a national disaster.

The Times editor Andrew Trench and deputy Sunday Times editor Sthembiso Msomi explain some of the initial steps they took to verify the emails and decide on a strategy to deal with such a massive trove of information.

In what Trench describes as "a controlled and barely managed panic for the first five days", the editors and journalists slowly found their feet.

Now, close to 90 stories have already been produced from the leaked information to to show the extent of state capture – but the editors say there is a silver lining, as recent developments have shown that South Africans have the power to wrestle back our state.

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