Disbanded Mkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association former spokesperson Carl Niehaus has written a formal complaint to the Defence Ministry relating to the unprofessional manner in which interviews of military veterans of MK were conducted by the Database Verification Committee and has denied he was not trained as a freedom fighter in the MK.
On Thursday, The Citizen in an article titled “Carl the toy soldier? Niehaus fails Umkhonto we Sizwe credentials test” reported that Niehaus was apparently never really trained as a freedom fighter in the ANC’s Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) military wing, despite having served time as a political prisoner.
A defiant Niehaus said he would attend the military veterans elective conference, despite apparently failing to prove he was ever in MK.
The veterans verification panel which was chaired by retired General Enoch Mashoala confirmed to The Citizen that Niehaus failed the verification test on Monday in East London, Eastern Cape.
“The verification test is done to determine whether an individual in our veterans database was a member of the MK military wing. Carl Niehaus has failed, he couldn’t tell the panel about his military credentials. He was never part of the MK and was never under any battalion or command.”
In a lengthy statement on Friday, Niehaus said he had filed an official complaint to Defence Minister and Military Veterans Thandi Modise and the Deputy Defence Minister and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla.
“I have been informed by reliable sources that someone within the Database Verification Committee, which was appointed to establish the bona fides of military veterans of Mkhonto we Sizwe in order to ensure their inclusion in the Military Veterans Database, is responsible for the leaks to The Citizens and other media houses.”
Niehaus has denied that he was not trained as a freedom fighter in the MK.
Niehaus in the statement than provides lengthy drivel of the alleged abuse and difficult process and interviews he undertook to establish his bona fides for inclusion in the Military Veterans Database.
“As far as my interview with the Database Verification Committee is concerned, I am deeply aggrieved by the manner in which the Database Verification Committee conducted the interview. In fact, it was not an interview, but instead it degenerated into an interrogation session led Chairperson of the Database Verification Committee, Major General Mashoala.”
Niehaus said he never claimed that he received all the required training for the operations that he ended up carrying out in the liberation struggle in the underground inside South Africa.
“The circumstances of my recruitment, and the fact that I continued to operate inside South Africa made such training very difficult, if not impossible. It is a well-established fact, of widely reported public record, that I have none-the-less as a young operative, who was 23 years old by the time when I was arrested, carried out the tasks that I was given, with commitment and diligence, under very difficult circumstances.”
Niehaus said while the database verification process is still ongoing, that more military veterans (specifically MK veterans associated with MKMVA) will be subjected to such abuse.
“This should not be allowed to continue, and I request for the necessary steps to be taken to prevent this kind of abuse from continuing. It is my contention that Major General Mashoala is not an unbiased and competent person capable of continuing as Chairperson of the Database Verification Committee, and that he should forthwith be relieved from that important position, and replaced by a person who can carry out the task of the Database Verification Committee in a competent, professional and dignified manner.”
Niehaus said he lodged the complaint and raised his concerns, not only because of his own personal experience during the interview process which left him deeply disturbed and humiliated, but also because he is aware of other complaints from MK veterans who were similarly maltreated during database verification interviews.