THE consulting editor of Atul Gupta's 24-hour television news channel, ANN7, who fled from the station's studio on Friday night reportedly pursued by an armed bodyguard, says his life is in danger and if anything should happen to him he wants the Guptas held responsible.
Rajesh Sundaram said his hotel room in Midrand was burgled in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Though he was wary of accusing the Guptas of being involved in the burglary, Sundaram said he wanted them held responsible should anything happen to him.
"I've written a letter to management," he said. "I told them that my life is under threat and if anything happens to me, either in South Africa or India, even if it's accidental, I would like [the Guptas] to be [held] responsible for that because they have [allegedly] threatened me."
He has been staying at the Cotswold Inn in Midrand, after fleeing the ANN7 studio.
He said the room next to his was also burgled, and he suspected the robbers wanted to steal his passport so he could not leave South Africa.
He is due to fly back home to Delhi, India, this morning.
Sundaram resigned from ANN7 after its debut was met with widespread public derision.
He said the blow to his reputation, and the Guptas' alleged interference in his work, made it impossible for him to continue working at the station.
He was on a two-year work permit and was considering eventually bringing his family to South Africa.
Sundaram said yesterday: "In aviation terms, this was like buying a grand, big Dreamliner jet and getting executive pilots to drive it, but ... Mr Gupta sat in the cockpit and flew it and has crash-landed the plane. Now he wants to blame the editors."
Hotel manager Quirin Kohler said staff had told him of the burglary but he did not know much more than that two rooms had been broken into.
A Midrand police officer said a case of theft had been registered, but the docket was still with the investigating officer.
After Sundaram resigned, ANN7 management allegedly tried to coerce him into signing an agreement that he would be paid for only five days.
He said when he refused to sign, an armed Gupta bodyguard chased after him.
After working endlessly – even on weekends – he had expected more respect. He described the working environment at ANN7 as extremely hostile, with staff regularly being sworn at and berated.
He said he felt sorry for the colleagues he was leaving behind. "I am going back to my daughters without shame in my eyes," he said.
"I'm proud of what I did. I had a cushy job. I could have stayed on there like some other editors but I chose to stand up for my rights and [those of] the other journalists."
Attempts to contact the Gupta family for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.