by Herman Manson (@marklives) Hummingbird Media Investments — the holding company of production companies Pollen and Hey!Fever (not currently trading, according to its website), digital content firms Apiary and Hive, and content creation and production agency Brave — has denied allegations made on social media platforms that it is guilty of corruption or no longer trading.

The allegations surfaced over the course of September 2015, primarily through anonymous Twitter account, @VisionThief. The account made a number of allegations, including that staff at Hummingbird Media companies have not been paid for several months, that it is unable to repay loans, that clients had been defrauded (specifically the DTI and SETA), and that its managing director, Bridget Scarr, had fled the country alongside her boyfriend.


Tweets from @VisionThief making allegations against The Hummingbird Group and its MD:

VisionThief tweet 01 not paid staff for three months VisionThief tweet 02 slit their throats VisionThief tweet 03 cheated stole VisionThief tweet 04 fleeing to Germany VisionThief tweet 05 owes SARS millions

Graeme Carr distances himself

Following the allegations being made on social media, Graeme Carr, co-founder of Pollen, emailed both MarkLives and BizCommunity, distancing himself from events at Pollen and inviting journalists to approach him for comment. Carr had left Pollen earlier this year.

Carr would not comment on the record and later sent a letter to MarkLives requesting his name not be mentioned in any articles on the matter. [MarkLives notes that his initial letter was CCed to several media publications simultaneously, and has played a role in our decision to approach Hummingbird Group for comment.]

Graeme Carr tweet retrieved from Google Search Cache
Screengrab of tweet retrieved from Google Search Cache.

This tweet has since been deleted, as well as the original Storify to which the Twitter shorturl points. It has since been reposted on Storify by a different user.

Statement by Bridget Scarr, The Hummingbird Group

Scarr, meanwhile, has issued a statement of her own through PR agency Meropa, denying that the company is no longer operational, that it had defrauded clients or that she had fled the country. Scarr did admit to cash flow issues at the company and that it has been downsizing operations, adding that “performance reviews for non-performing staff” were under way.

Statement in full:

The Hummingbird Group is currently under attack by one or two disgruntled former employees, who are conducting a baseless and malicious smear campaign against the organisation, and me, as its Managing Director. Some of our clients and service providers are also being sent untrue, defamatory information and emails, in an effort to case malicious damage to the Hummingbird Group. The Hummingbird Group would like to categorically state that:

    • We are 100% operational;
    • We do experience occasional cash flow challenges, and have the normal operational challenges that affect all South African business when it comes to securing payment from clients, from both public and private sector clients/funders.
    • Notwithstanding the incredibly high costs of doing business in the film and television industry; recent delayed payments to the Hummingbird Group have resulted in cash flow management processes being implemented to ensure that there is business liquidity;
    • To manage cash flow challenges we have taken steps to downsize our operations over the past few months. Steps have included scaling back on staff, performance reviews for non-performing staff and an imminent move to smaller offices; these are standard business practices when faced with persistent cash flow challenges and non-payment from clients/funders;
    • I am currently travelling in Europe to have meetings ahead of MIPCOM [a television industry trade show]; an event which I have attended annually without fail over the past five years; and which I will be attending again this year, as planned. I am returning to South Africa after MIPCOM; I have not fled the country, and all outstanding payments will be honoured in accordance with agreements already in place with staff and service providers;
    • No funds have been stolen from the DTI, as alleged by the campaigners.
    • This campaign could endanger Hummingbird Group, which has a proud, eight year history of service and delivery to our vast number of clients and to the film and television industry in South Africa.  It can impact on the good work we do, the projects we run and the people we employ.

Our attorneys and the appropriate authorities are presently dealing with these issues.It is my duty, as Hummingbird Group’s Managing Director, to take its mission forward with integrity, honesty, accountability and transparency.I take this responsibility very seriously, with the best interests of the organisation and the industry at heart –to this end we are pursuing a legal route and the investigation into this matter is ongoing, and will take its course. We will update all stakeholders accordingly.


MIPCOM takes place in Cannes, France, 5–8 October 2015.

Please take note of the comment policy before posting feedback. Thank you.


Herman Manson 2105Herman Manson (@marklives) is the founder and editor of He was the inaugural Vodacom Social Media Journalist of the Year in 2011 and has, over his 20-year-plus career, contributed to numerous journals and websites in South Africa and abroad, including AdVantage magazine, Men’s Health, Computer World and African Communications.



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6 replies on “Hummingbird Group denies allegations of fraud”

  1. Hi Herman,

    Have you been in touch with the Directors of Hey!Fever, Hive and Brave to corroborate Hummingbirds Press Release?


  2. The problem with Scarr’s entire statement is that it’s not really based in any sort of earthly reality. One or two disgruntled employees? It is literally every employee. Still operational? The entire premises is vacant and the staff resigned. Cash flow problems? The entire group is broke. Ex staff members are still owed three months worth of salaries. This is stil after squandering millions of rands of an initial SETA and DTI payment that was meant to serve an animation training program and year long project called Afri-antics, which was employing a score of junior to senior animators that has now completely stuttered and died and will not reach completion. On top of this, Scarr had taken numerous loans from other production houses, like Lucky Bean Media, and literally has no means or intent of paying this money back. Performance reviews? There are no staff left to review. Traveling to MIP via Germany? Bullshit. Scarr had organized an emergency meeting with her animation supervisors for the Friday before she left. She then left without notice that Wednesday night. And I doubt she’s been even slightly registered as an attendee at the film mart, but that should merit further investigation. Integrity, honesty, transparency and accountability are fairly new words to Scarr and as far as I know, I doubt she understands the definitions of these words. Herman, please, do not let this issue go quietly into the night, Scarr is once again blowing smoke and this really needs further attention to bring the full truthful story to light.

  3. My company was hired to undertake all PR for the Hummingbird Group. We signed an initial six month contract in June this year. We have not been paid a single cent to date.

  4. It appears @VisionThief on Twitter has been suspended. I have no doubt a complaint was lodged against him/her by the parties involved at Hummingbird.

    Vision seems to have some inside information on this, it seems a shame that they had to hide behind anonymity for their own protection in all this, seeing as we now have no way of knowing who to approach on that side of the story.

    But having personally spoken to several animators of varying levels of seniority within Hummingbirds sub companies who are awaiting salaries as well as companies who loaned Bridget and Hummingbird money, there seems to be many discrepancies in her story. She seems to still be spinning stories that the money for outstanding salaries is still being held back by investors awaiting slighted partners signatures whereas former employees seem to think she has already been paid.

    No one seems to talking to one another to determine the full story, and until Bridget makes a full statement on South African soil I don’t think any of her stories will hold water. So I guess we have to wait until the end of MIPCOM to find out if she intends on coming home.

    I’m just hoping this story finds some manner of resolution, for unpaid staff and investors alike. It mustn’t just be shut down like @VisionThief.

  5. All we know is, SETA paid the money owed to the junior animators, Scarr took the money and left the country. The juniors still haven’t been paid the two months salary owed. Any attempts by SETA to bypass Scarr to pay the juniors what has been owed to them has been delayed by her unnecessarily. Hummingbird can deny these allegations of fraud. But that is what happened.

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