Carl Niehaus

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Carl Niehaus (born 25 December 1959) is the former spokesman for South African ruling party the African National Congress, former spokesman for Nelson Mandela, and was a political prisoner after being convicted of treason against South Africa. He stepped down as ANC spokesman in February 2009 after admitting to maladministration of his own finances, extensive borrowing from political contacts and fraud. He is a vocal and noteworthy supporter of former President Jacob Zuma.[1]

Treason conviction and sentence[edit]

As a young theology student,[2] Niehaus was reported to the security police by his flatmate after speaking incautiously about blowing up the gasworks in Johannesburg. In 1983 he was convicted of treason and received a prison sentence of 15 years.[3] He was released in the 1990s.[2]

In 2008 he publicly disclosed that he was gang raped in prison the night before his guilty verdict was handed down.[4] The truth of this claim has subsequently been questioned by a former friend, Bart Luirink, editor of the Dutch Zuidelijk Afrika (South Africa) magazine[5]


In February 2008 investigations by a number of media organisations found that Niehaus had falsely claimed to hold a master's degree and a doctorate in theology (summa cum laude) from the University of Utrecht. Claimed qualifications confirmed to be true included a Bachelor's in Theology from the University of South Africa (Unisa) awarded in April 1988 and an honours degree (Cum Laude) from the same institution two years later.[6][7]


In 1994 he became the spokesman for Nelson Mandela and, subsequently, a member of parliament and the chairman of the correctional services committee.[3]

In late 1996 he was appointed South Africa's ambassador to the Netherlands.[8] At the end of his term as ambassador,[3] he became an executive director[9] of Nicro, the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders.

In late 2000[10] he became the joint chairman of the Home for all initiative, a campaign by white activists to apologise for apartheid.[3]

2009 scandal[edit]

In February 2009 Niehaus stepped down as spokesman for the ANC after a newspaper reported on a "broad trail of bad debt and broken promises" stemming from his personal financial mismanagement, including one instance of fraud, and claiming that his sister had died.[11][12] Niehaus confessed to most of the allegations against him in the same article.[13]

Parts of his confession were questioned on the same day, when the Gauteng provincial government said it had independently discovered that Niehaus had forged the signatures of provincial ministers to secure a loan. Niehaus claimed he had confessed the forgery within hours of committing it.[14]

Niehaus stepped down as spokesman of the ANC the same day in what the party described as a mutual decision.[15]

His debts were later estimated to total nearly R4.5 million.[16] It was reported in 2017 that Neihaus was still in debt and concocting what appeared to be a fraudulent scheme to get out of trouble.[17] [18]

2017 ANC presidential campaign[edit]

In 2017 Niehaus reemerged as a spokesperson for the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association and a key member of the campaign team for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's failed bid for the ANC presidency.[19] In mid 2018, the MKMVA apparently apologised to the ANC for statements made by Niehaus regarding the land question.[20]

He gained brief fame for his dancing during one campaign event.[21][22]

Late in 2017, Niehaus stated that he would be complaining to Wikipedia about being called a "poes".[23]

Personal life[edit]

In 1986 Niehaus married Jansie Lourens, who had recruited him into the armed struggle against apartheid and who was sentenced to four years for the same treason plot that saw Niehaus jailed. The couple divorced in 2002 and Niehaus married Linda Thango.[24]

In September 2008 he married businesswoman Mafani Gunguluza[5], and in 2012 he told 702 Radio that they had separated.[25]


  1. ^ "I'll support Zuma no matter what‚ says Carl Niehaus outside court". TimesLIVE. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b New York Times(1)
  3. ^ a b c d #News24(1)
  4. ^ Independent Online(2)
  5. ^ a b Independent Online(3)
  6. ^ #News24(4)
  7. ^ The Citizen(1)
  8. ^ South African government(1)
  9. ^ Independent Online(1)
  10. ^ #News24(2)
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Mail & Guardian(1)
  14. ^ The Times(1)
  15. ^
  16. ^ The Times(2)
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Unforgiven: The extraordinary tale of Carl Niehaus | Daily Maverick". Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  20. ^
  21. ^ reporter, Citizen. "WATCH: How social media unpacked this video of Niehaus and Van Rooyen dancing". The Citizen. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  22. ^ "Carl Niehaus Dancing Behind Zuma Is What The Doctor Ordered". Huffington Post South Africa. 6 November 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  23. ^
  24. ^ #News24(3)
  25. ^