The Indaba Show: A conversation with Carl Niehaus

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Derived from isiXhosa and isiZulu, the word ‘Indaba’ refers to a discussion or a conversation. For Steven Taylor, host of the Indaba Show, the purpose of the show is to have real conversations with people from all walks of life.

This week, guest on the show is Carl Niehaus, former spokesman for the ANC and former spokesman for Nelson Mandela.

Niehaus was born in a small town called Zeerust, in the Old Western Transvaal which is now the Northwest Province. 

When he was 16 he started visiting the town of Soweto and saw the conditions the people were living in. 

“I saw the difference between those conditions in Soweto and my own privileged, white middle class suburb. I found it unacceptable. I grew up in a very religious home and I’m still a very religious person. I believed that apartheid is a heresy and is a total contradiction of the scriptures,” he said. 

It was in Zeerust where he made the first link between him and former President Jacob Zuma who was arrested there by the apartheid police in the early 60s and subsequently given a 10 year sentence. 

Niehaus was also a political prisoner after being convicted of treason against South Africa’s former apartheid government.

Taylor prompts a question to Niehaus, “why are you still supporting Jacob Zuma run his race? He’s been president, why are you still there backing him?”.

To this Niehaus responds:

“For three reasons. The one is I hate people being treated unfairly and persecuted. I’ve watched President Zuma being persecuted by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) through political manipulation for over 22 years,” he said. 

“Secondly, I support him, because he stands for economic transformatory principles that I agree with. He has pushed as hard as he could for radical economic transformation.

“And then there’s a third very personal reason. When I was in prison, I was one of the last political prisoners to be released, because the white apartheid regime hated me for the fact that I was what they called an Afrikaaner white traitor. When President Zuma was sent in as the leader of the ANC advanced team to stop negotiations, he came to visit me in prison, he insisted on being able to have access to me too. He subsequently every second weekend came to visit me to see if I’m well, so he kept on pushing for my release.”

Written by: Kelly-Jane Turner

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