Corruption-accused former president Jacob Zuma favoured the Guptas over other business people, the evidence of their dealings with the SABC showed, according to the Zondo Commission's findings.
Furthermore, state capture-era communications minister Faith Muthambi joined the list of former ministers who were labelled "Gupta ministers" by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who headed the commission. He also found eccentric former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng was Zuma's henchman at the SABC.
Zondo found Zuma flouted the Constitution and the Executive Members' Ethics Act, and recommended that Muthambi should be referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) because her actions were in contravention of the Constitution, her oath of office, and the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act.
He also recommended that former SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo and Motsoeneng be investigated for contraventions of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
In addition, he wants the Guptas, their business partners and Motsoeneng to feel it in their pockets by recovering funds for the cash-strapped public broadcaster.
The commission recommended that the SABC institute proceedings to recover the R4.2-million it spent on broadcasting the Guptas' The New Age (TNA) breakfast briefings.
"At the very least, the investigating and prosecuting authorities should attempt to recover all the monies spent through unlawful and improper actions, if that can still be done. For instance, the R11-million 'success fee' should be recovered from Mr Motsoeneng."
Dealing with the launch of the Guptas' television station, ANN7, Zondo said: "It is most painful to learn from someone from another country who came to our country and did the things that the Gupta family members did to us as South Africans in this country, came to the conclusion that South African officials not only can be bribed but can be bribed by a free meal or a drink. That's how low the Guptas thought of us as South Africans.
The commission found it is "most probable" that Motsoeneng's "gross abuse of power at the SABC, including diverting public resources vested in the SABC to benefit the Guptas' rival media company" was sanctioned by Muthambi and Zuma.
It emerged from the Gupta Leaks – a vast tranche of emails that blew the lid open on state capture in 2017 – that Muthambi emailed confidential government policy documents to one of the Gupta brothers.
Appearing before the commission, Muthambi denied any wrongdoing, but Zondo didn't buy what she was selling.
"I find the evidence of Ms Muthambi unconvincing, to say the least. She knew quite well she had unauthorised communications with the Guptas, and for that reason, did not disclose to the mentioned court who she has consulted with." Zondo also rejected Muthambi's version that the Guptas were "innocent stakeholders".
"It is clear that she had abused her powers in a number of instances. In these circumstances, the finding to make is that Ms Muthambi had unlawfully [shared] that confidential information with the Guptas and their associates. It was quite clear that she was doing so in order to talk to their friend, [then] president Zuma, to ensure that she had certain powers as Minister of Communications."
The report reads, "That means that, like Mr Mosebenzi Zwane, Ms Lynne Brown and Mr Malusi Gigaba, who were Gupta ministers, she too, was a Gupta minister."
Zondo was left with no doubt that Zuma was in breach of the Executive Ethics Code in his dealing with TNA and ANN7.
"He, as president, abused his office for his own benefit, that of his son and that of his friends, the Guptas. He placed himself in a situation of a conflict of interest and abused his position as president of the country."
Zondo found that the Gupta family and Zuma's son, Duduzane, benefitted from the relationship the Guptas had with Zuma in that they obtained state contracts, in particular with the SABC, "to the detriment of other potential competitors" in the media space.
"[Then] president Zuma enabled, indirectly, the members of the Gupta family as businesspeople to occupy a place of prominence over other businessmen to the detriment of the empowerment legislative imperative of the Republic of South Africa."
Zondo found, from the evidence relating to TNA and ANN7, that it was clear Zuma was close to the Guptas and took an interest in their "ventures".
Furthermore, Motsoeneng "saw himself (and probably was) the facilitator between [the] president Zuma and at the very least, the news section of the SABC", and while it is unclear whether it was to benefit Zuma, it did benefit the ANC and Duduzane Zuma.
Despite a parliamentary ad hoc committee that investigated the SABC finding that Muthambi was incompetent and could have misled Parliament, Zuma moved her to another portfolio. She didn't make it into Ramaphosa's Cabinet but remains an ANC MP.