Zuma ally rescues Niehaus
February 16 2009 at 06:18AM
By Wendy Jasson da Costa
Businessman Vivian Reddy is to bail out his comrade and friend Carl Niehaus, the ANC spin-doctor whose lavish lifestyle has left him deeply in debt.
And it won’t be the first time that Reddy comes to the aid of a comrade in need. A few years ago he forked out R50 000 to help ANC President Jacob Zuma finance his homestead at Nkandla in northern KwaZulu Natal.
Reddy is also known as one of the backers of the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust, which was established to fund Zuma’s court battles.
On Sunday, Reddy, who was on the state’s witness list, but did not testify, during the fraud and corruption trial of fellow Durban businessman Schabir Shaik, said he would assist Niehaus.
Although Reddy would not say how much he would fork out, or discuss the terms of his rescue, it has emerged that Niehaus owes well over R1-million.
Niehaus’s list of known debtors includes:
# Rhema Church – loan: R700 000
# Eric Corbishley – rent: R300 000
# Brett Kebble estate: R70 000
Among the published disclosures are that Niehaus had approached Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan, magnates Saki Macozoma, Tokyo Sexwale and Cyril Ramaphosa, Absa chairperson and former Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus, and businessman Rick Menell for assistance.
Niehaus used some of the loans to finance his lavish lifestyle, which included the purchase of a Porsche, a C-Class Mercedes and a Jeep Cherokee.
Reddy on Sunday said those with impeccable political credentials such as Niehaus should be assisted when they fall on “bad times”.
He said Niehaus was one of the first white Afrikaners to have spoken out against apartheid; that he was gang-raped and tortured in prison for his political activities; and that when someone like that approached him for assistance, it was “in his nature” to agree.
“He made a great sacrifice � and he is a friend of mine,” he said.
Reddy was fiercely critical of Corbishley, who in the Sunday Times revealed his battle to get Niehaus to come up with R300 000 in unpaid rent. He said it was “a very low thing” for Corbishley to have made public a private agreement.
Reddy said he had become involved in the Niehaus matter only three weeks ago and that while there was an agreement between them, Niehaus “still needs to fulfil some aspects from his side”. He would not elaborate.
The ANC, which has vowed to keep Niehaus in its employ and assist in rehabilitating him, yesterday refused to comment any further on the scandal surrounding the former ambassador to the Netherlands, who, according to the Sunday Times, is on the verge of being evicted from a lavish R5-million house after paying only the deposit and one month’s rent for the R45 000-a-month dwelling.
Niehaus has confessed to forging the signatures of four Gauteng MECs in order to obtain finance. He withdrew the fraudulent form, however, before it was processed.
In another development, the Independent Democrats on Sunday said the party had laid criminal charges against Niehaus at the Joburg Central police station for allegedly forging signatures while he was chief executive of the Gauteng Economic Development Agency in an attempt to secure a loan.
The ID’s Gauteng chairperson, Rose Gudhluza, said they had a “no-tolerance approach” towards politicians who exploited their power for their own personal benefit.
She said other business people and politicians had gone to jail and faced charges because of this and the ID could not “stand idly by” while Niehaus was forgiven and redeployed by the ANC.
“It is all about money. The ANC has lost its soul,” Gudhluza said.
o This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on February 16, 2009