Niehaus fraud: ANC knew all about it

Published Feb 14, 2009


Disgraced ANC spokesperson, former jailed ANC activist and post-1994 MP Carl Niehaus, who has confessed to committing serious fraud, stopped at nothing to fund an opulent lifestyle, including making a false claim that his sister had died.

On Friday as the Democratic Alliance called on the ANC to fire Niehaus and for the Gauteng government to charge him, when it emerged Niehaus lied to a law firm to get it to pay for a return business-class airticket for his ex-wife, Linda Thango.

After Friday's damning expose in the Mail & Guardian in which he confessed to fraud, serious financial problems and a string of broken promises, Niehaus tearfully told Talk Radio 702 that he had tendered his resignation to the ANC.

On Friday the party said it would retain him, but remove him from its communications department.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said they had urged Niehaus to seek counselling to "rebuild and reconstruct his life".

The Mail & Guardian revealed Niehaus forged the signatures of at least four MECs, including that of the then Gauteng finance minister and current Gauteng Premier Paul Mashatile, while he was chief executive of the Gauteng Economic Development Agency, in a bid to obtain a loan from a businessman.

Mashatile asked Niehaus to leave when he confessed what he had done.

On Friday, his spokesperson Simon Zwane said as far as the provincial government was concerned the matter didn't warrant any further action.

At the time of the airticket scam, Niehaus was working as a black empowerment and transformation consultant for the legal firm AL Mostert & Co, when he made the false claim about the demise of his sister.

Niehaus, who at the time in 2004 was assisting with the organisation an ANC concert in London, told his employer his sister had died and he had no money to pay for an airticket to London to arrange her funeral.

This was despite the fact he was being paid in excess of R100 000 a month as a consultant.

His fee was based on his claimed contacts with potential empowerment partners.

Thango, who was then still his wife, was also employed at AL Mostert & Co, as Niehaus' personal assistant at his insistence.

Niehaus was caught out on his return from London when he dropped Thango off at the front entrance to the law firm before parking his car.

Staff had arranged flowers for the couple. On seeing the flowers Thango reportedly asked what they were for.

She was told it was gesture from the staff in sympathy for the death of her sister-in-law.

Her response was: "When did that happen? We were with her yesterday!"

Niehaus confessed and was immediately dismissed.

In common with other high profile jobs Niehaus has held since 1994, he was long on promises and short on delivery.

At one stage he worked for audit firm Deloitte and Touche, but left there when he was politically embarrassed by a property deal that fell through in the Netherlands.

In 2004 he left his position as chief executive of the Rhema Church owing the church R700 000 for luxury vehicles he had bought, including a Porsche, Jeep Cherokee and Mercedes Benz, as well as using church funds to to go on holiday with Thango to Zanzibar.

Niehaus was also employed in the Office of the State President where he left under a cloud owing R24 000, which he repaid.

Justifying the decision to retain Niehaus, Mantashe said: "My emphasis is on a cadre of the movement who suffered a great deal because of ANC activities. That is no justification to do wrong things, but it imposes responsibility on the movement to counsel such cadres."

Mantashe said Niehaus only disclosed his financial woes after he was quizzed by the party, denying reports in the Mail & Guardian Niehaus had used his struggle credentials to get loans from ANC luminaries and to force an introduction to controversial murdered mining magnate Brett Kebble.

Instead, Mantashe suggested the revelations about Niehaus were aimed at damaging the ANC in the run-up to the election.

"There will be stories about leaders of the ANC up to April 22 ."

On Friday, DA MP Motlatjo Thetjeng said unless Mashatile acts against Niehaus the party would charge the Premier under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act for not reporting the matter to police.

"The Niehaus case epitomises the ANC's closed, crony system in action whereby senior ANC leaders abuse their positions to pressure the business community to sponsor their extravagant lifestyles in return for favours in the awarding of government tenders," he said.

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