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16 Feb 2009 07:43
The Independent Democrats on Sunday laid charges of fraud against former ANC spokesperson Carl Niehaus, they said in a statement.
“The ID decided to lay the charge against Niehaus after he admitted to the Mail & Guardian that he had forged signatures while he was chief executive of the Gauteng Economic Development Agency (Geda) in an attempt to secure a loan,” said Rose Gudhluza, ID chairperson in Gauteng.
Gauteng police spokesperson Superintendent Eugene Opperman confirmed that a case against Niehaus was opened at the Johannesburg Central police station.
“The case was opened so it must be investigated,” he said.
The ANC remained tight-lipped about Niehaus as more media allegations emerged over the weekend.
“The ANC doesn’t respond to articles in the Sunday Times. We said what we needed to say on Friday,” ANC spokesperson Jesse Duarte told the South African Press Association on Sunday.
On Friday, the ANC held a press briefing confirming Niehaus’s resignation.
The Sunday Times reported that Niehaus was allegedly facing eviction from his R45 000 a month home after apparently owing his landlord over R300 000.
The paper published SMSs allegedly sent by Niehaus to his landlord in which the former blamed the ANC’s “serious organisation challenges” for the lack of payment.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Niehaus said that after he was hired by the ANC, and paid an advance of R30 000, the party failed to pay him for three months.
“They were messing me around.
There was a delay in payment and the finalisation of my contract,” he said in the interview.
On Friday, the M&G reported that Niehaus was alleged to have forged the signatures of, among others, the former provincial finance minister and current premier, Paul Mashatile while chief executive of Geda.
The letter was apparently an attempt to secure a loan from a businessman who had wanted favourable conditions related to Johannesburg property deals.
Night in jail
The Sunday World also published fresh allegations concerning Niehaus’s spending. The paper reported that Niehaus was arrested in Sun City after failing to pay his R70 000 bill. In an interview with the paper, Niehaus confirmed that he was arrested and spent a night in jail. He said the bill was ultimately settled.
Also in the Sunday Times was an interview with ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe. Mantashe said the ANC had been aware that Niehaus had been “relieved of his duties” at Geda but that the organisation believed in helping its cadres.
“There is no poor judgement in assisting cadres of the movement who have gone through difficult periods,” said Mantashe in the interview.
Mantashe has said that Niehaus will be re-deployed to another position within the ANC.
In a statement, Democratic Alliance spokesman Ryan Coetzee accused Mantashe of not being committed to the ANC’s promises to stamp out corruption.
“Mantashe’s [statements] are the clearest indication of why corruption has become endemic in South Africa under the ANC,” he said.
“The party cannot distinguish right from wrong, and is all too easily prone to excusing criminal acts on the basis that members of the ANC should be held to a different and lower moral standard from the rest of South Africa,” added Coetzee.
AfriForum also issued a statement which criticised the ANC’s decision to re-deploy Niehaus.
“The ANC’s decision sends the negative message to prospective criminals and all who are already involved in criminal activities that the ANC condones their actions and will not take severe action against them,” said Deputy CEO Alana Baily in the statement.
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