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By Shaun Smillie, Gill Gifford, Louise Flanagan and Niels Posthumus
Just weeks before Carl Niehaus confessed to his fraudulent activities and financial woes, he paid R35 000 lobola for his new wife.
The Star has learnt that Niehaus, 49, made the lobola payment for his third wife, Mafani Gunguluza, 31, in two instalments, at a time when he was battling to pay the rent on his luxury mansion in Midrand. The lobola party was apparently held a few weeks ago at Gunguluza's home.
The couple apparently married in September last year. Die Burger reported that in their prenuptial agreement the month before, Niehaus listed his personal wealth as R12,5-million.
Gunguluza is described as an experienced and innovative businesswoman in her biography on the website of M&C Investments Holdings, her business with Niehaus. She is a director of several companies and a member of the South African Women Entrepreneurs' Forum.
M&C Investments Holdings is not registered. However, both Niehaus and Gunguluza are directors of the similarly named R&C Investments Holdings, which they both joined in February last year.
Online documents and websites linked to Niehaus have been deleted, while the website for M&C Investments Holdings has been removed.
Niehaus's blog on LitNet, Carl se Agtertuin (Carl's backyard), is gone. Online copies of his CV - with false claims of qualifications and connections - have gone.
On Thursday, one of Niehaus's friends spoke of his disappointment. Bart Luirink, editor of the Dutch Zuidelijk Afrika Magazine and a former member of the Dutch anti-apartheid movement, has known Niehaus for years.
At one stage, he lived near the Niehaus family in Yeoville, Joburg, and often met him while Niehaus was the ambassador in Holland.
"I think he was really one of the best we ever had in Holland," Luirink said of Niehaus's ambassadorship. "He was a very good friend of the Queen's (Beatrix) husband, (late) Prince Claus."
Luirink admitted now doubting the truth of Niehaus's claim in 2001 that he had leukaemia, saying he thought this was an excuse to resign his ambassadorship, and even his June 2008 claim that he was gang-raped in prison the night before he was sentenced for treason in 1983.
"I don't know about the whole rape story, whether it was a PR exercise," he mused.
"We're puzzled. If it happened, it must have been a horrifying experience. But since so many things did not happen and are not true, I start to question it."
Like others, Luirink questioned why Niehaus aired his rape claims on his blog in an open letter written to his 11-year-old daughter, calling it "perverse" to write such a thing to a child.
Luirink said that if the claim had been invented, Niehaus may have done this to increase his political credibility.
He said Niehaus had been bitter about the ANC under then president Thabo Mbeki having no place for whites who had been part of the struggle during the apartheid years, in favour of whites who joined the ANC after its unbanning.
"So emphasising your participation in the struggle might be a tool for belonging," he said.
Luirink wrote a lengthy open letter to Niehaus last week on his blog in response to the Mail & Guardian's interview with Niehaus in which he admitted his fraud and financial woes.
But after a week of further revelations of Niehaus's fraud, Luirink wrote a second, angrier blog. "Seek a therapist, Carl. Goodbye," he wrote.
Yesterday, the leader of the opposition in the Gauteng Legislature, Jack Bloom, claimed that the document Niehaus forged when he was CEO of the Gauteng Economic Development Agency (Geda) was not just a letter to a business as he claimed, but the minutes of Gauteng's provincial executive.
Premier Paul Mashatile was finance MEC at the time and responsible for Geda.
"It was a forged version of the minutes of the executive council conferring authority on a company to lease buildings for government departments. This is why it had the signatures of four MECs, including Mashatile, Ignatius Jacobs, Angie Motshekga and Khabisi Mosunkutu," said Bloom.
"I find it hard to believe that any of these MECs did not hear about these forged signatures. If they did know, yet did nothing to ensure a prosecution, they were an accessory to corruption after the fact.
"They can all expect a visit from a friendly detective to explain themselves in this matter."
Bloom also accused Mashatile of hiring Niehaus as CEO of Geda in 2005 contrary to procedures, because the job was not advertised.