Shilowa may be drawn into Niehaus fracas

The aftershocks from former African National Congress spokesperson Carl Niehaus’s revelations to the Mail & Guardian continued to reverberate through South African politics on Monday.

Former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa and his replacement, Paul Mashatile, may be drawn into the fracas.

On Friday, the M&G reported that Niehaus was alleged to have forged the signatures of, among others, Paul Mashatile, while he was chief executive of the Gauteng Development Agency (Geda).

The letter was apparently an attempt to secure a loan from a businessman who had wanted favourable conditions related to Johannesburg property deals. He also admitted to having received R70 000 from murdered mining magnate Brett Kebble.

Shilowa has denied any blame in the allegations and was quoted by Business Day on Monday as saying that “when Mashatile came to tell me what Niehaus had attempted to do, he had already acted. So I did not see a need to ask for details.”

Jack Bloom, Democratic Alliance leader in the Gauteng legislature, said Mashatile will face criminal charges for failing to report Niehaus’s attempted fraud while he was at Geda.

Bloom said the DA would lay a complaint at the Johannesburg Central police station on Tuesday.

He added that Mashatile would be charged with obstructing justice and with failing to report corruption.

‘Niehaus says he confessed this fraud to Mashatile and was told to quit or face a disciplinary enquiry,” said Bloom.

“Mashatile clearly wished to cover up this embarrassing matter by an ANC cadre. This is reprehensible in itself, but he may also have committed a criminal offence in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act which makes it an offence not to report a corrupt act to the police.”

“The Auditor General should also conduct a forensic audit into the affairs of Geda during the seven months that Niehaus was in charge.”

He said Mashatile should have been at the forefront of exposing it, not covering it up.

“What more is there that we don’t know about?”

Fraud charges
The Independent Democrats on Sunday laid charges of fraud against Niehaus for the forged signatures.

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.—Sapa

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