It was a 'propaganda campaign' by 'hyenas of WMC' - Niehaus denies woman in photo is Mkhwebane

2019-07-22 19:47

The Office of the Public Protector has denied Busisiwe Mkhwebane has any relationship with Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans official Carl Niehaus after claims emerged that a photo, which was shared on social media and political WhatsApp groups, showed the two meeting at a restaurant.

Niehaus has denied the woman in the photo is Mkhwebane, stating that it was in fact his "old friend" Slauzy Mogami, the chairperson of a BRICS working group.

A Twitter account in Mkhwebane's name, which does not carry Twitter's verified blue and white tick, suggested the photo was "fake news".

Several users, including former and current politicians, questioned whether the woman in the photo was the Public Protector.

The picture was taken at an upmarket restaurant in Sandton, but it is unclear by whom.

Niehaus is a staunch supporter of former president Jacob Zuma.

Mkhwebane has faced widespread criticism for her findings, comments and timing, not least from high-ranking politicians. Recently, the SACP's Solly Mapaila called her a "hired gun".

He claimed Mkhwebane was out to delegitimise individuals. Speaking at the same Nehawu conference as Mapaila, ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe said Mkhwebane sometimes "occupied a political space".

The Public Protector has strongly denied these claims, saying she was involved in the ANC's factional battles were part of a "tired and unproven narrative".

READ: Mkhwebane slams Mapaila over 'hired gun' remarks

When News24 contacted the Office of the Public Protector about the authenticity of the photo, spokesperson Oupa Segalwe strongly denied any meeting had occurred between the two individuals. 

In a WhatsApp correspondence, Segalwe said: "The Public Protector has never met Mr Niehaus in her life."

In a statement, Niehaus lashed out at "the prowling hyenas and bloodhounds of white monopoly capital", saying it was clearly a "propaganda campaign". He added the photo was taken three months ago.

Niehaus said the photo undermined his basic human rights and explained that when he met Mogami, not having seen each other for some time, the two decided to have coffee. "While we were doing so, a spy/intelligence operator must have sneaked up and taken a photo or photos of us."

Niehaus said he had never met Mkhwebane. 

"Clearly, this was a concerted and well co-ordinated, propaganda campaign with a social media component in tandem with the mainstream media. Once again, the prowling hyenas and bloodhounds of white monopoly capital went on the attack. In this instance, because of their desperation and haste, this attack has backfired spectacularly on them."

In a bizarre turn of events, Niehaus also tweeted a picture of questions News24 had sent to Segalwe.

Hours after Segalwe received the correspondence from News24, Niehaus tweeted that on the basis of mistaken identity, News24 was already gung-ho about the set of questions. 

Segalwe said his correspondence with the News24 journalist had been sent by a colleague after it was shared in an office WhatsApp group. 

"One of the group members admitted sharing [it] with an external party [not Carl as they are not associates] and so it seems it was a matter of puff and pass," he said.

News24 reached out to Mogame for comment, but she had not responded by the time of publishing. Her comment will be added once received.

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Read more on:    public protector  |  busi­siwe mkhwebane  |  carl niehaus
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