Louisa Wynand has revealed her identity and is taking on Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman in a bid to shine the spotlight on sexual harassment
Louisa Wynand, the young woman who laid sexual assault charges against Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman in January, is preparing herself for another fight. This time, it’s against the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) after it dropped her case, citing a “lack of evidence”.
Wynand says police sent her a WhatsApp message last Thursday informing her that the director of public prosecutions would drop the matter.
This week, Wynand’s attorney, Cariem Jacobs, told City Press: “The first thing we need to do is tackle the NPA. We want to know exactly what happened, and why the case was withdrawn. There is plenty of evidence, so we want to clarify this
so-called lack of evidence.”
Wynand (21), who matriculated from Stellenbosch High School in 2013, laid a complaint against Fransman on January 6 after a road trip from Cape Town to Rustenburg to attend the ANC’s 104th birthday celebrations.
During the drive, he allegedly touched her breasts and later forced her to share a bed with him.
This week, Wynand – who describes herself as “a loner and a wallflower, who likes to read, sing and annoy her three brothers” – decided to reveal her identity in a bid to draw attention to her case, and to shine the spotlight on sexual harassment.
“This matter really put my life in a different perspective. At this stage, my number one goal is women’s rights,” she said this week.
Speaking to City Press from her brother’s house in Pniel outside Stellenbosch, Wynand said the incident shattered her life. Apart from the fact that she now constantly looks over her shoulder, she can’t find a waitressing job because the winelands hospitality sector is overflowing with gossip.
“My life has changed; everything has changed. I went into hiding after all this. But I’ve decided to open up now. How can they say I won’t have my day in court? And ever since I put my name out there, help and support is streaming in.”
Wynand dismissed the allegation Fransman made earlier this year that her claims were part of a political “conspiracy” against him.
Wynand said she had no idea who Fransman was when they met at an up-market Stellenbosch wine estate where she worked as a hostess late last year.
“I’m not into politics. I’ve never even registered to vote. Eventually, I googled him,” she said.
“A conspiracy? That’s just so incredible and absolutely not true. How can I engineer a plot against him when he was the one who approached me? At [the wine estate], we worked 15-hour shifts; there wasn’t time for plotting. I don’t even know politicians. I know Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Martin Luther King, but that’s all.”
Wynand says Fransman offered her a job in “public relations and hospitality” in early January, which she accepted.
On January 4, they hit the road to Rustenburg in a burgundy Jaguar with two of Fransman’s friends.
“I was newly out of school and saw this as a chance to build my career. As a young person, you don’t question your boss. I mean, this was my first assignment for him. He said I was needed to do certain things in Rustenburg and that he would explain to me exactly what during the drive up there.
“When we left Cape Town, everything was professional. I even took sticky notes with me for my tasks. It was my first day and I wanted to make a good impression.”
Wynand did not want to divulge all the details of her case, but City Press has seen the docket detailing her account.
It reads: “On Tuesday, January 5, at about 2.19am, they arrived at the Flamingo Hotel in Kimberley, whereby she was forced to share the bed with the suspect and he would wrap his arms over her and rubbed himself against her, touching her breasts.
“She told him that she does not feel comfortable and he said it would be her challenge to overcome if she wanted to make a success out of her career, and needed to be clinical and cold about it. They then proceeded to Rustenburg.”
Wynand told City Press of her fear when they arrived at Sun City, where the ANC’s national executive committee had gathered ahead of celebrations at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.
“I was all alone. I didn’t know anyone at the congress. I tried to stay calm until I could go to security guards at Sun City. They called the police. It was a whole process with many delays, then finally police officers fetched me and took me to the police station outside Sun City. They weren’t being helpful and were like: ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’
“Fransman’s people came to look for me at the station, so I was trying to hide in a back room...”
After delivering her statement at the police station, Wynand contacted her parents – Andy, a businessman, and Alba, a receptionist – who bought her a plane ticket home to Cape Town.
Police officers transported her from Sun City to OR Tambo International Airport.
“My mother reared me to be very independent. But still, I was so scared, thinking what if I get kidnapped,” she recalled, fighting back tears.
Wynand, one of four siblings, grew up in Bellville. Her matric subjects included applied computer technology, history, biology, mathematics, Afrikaans and English. At school, she was known for her beautiful singing voice, and she played netball and participated in athletics.
She ascribes her tendency to be a loner to “always being different”, because her mother is white and her father is coloured.
Wynand was forced to stop her studies in language and culture at Stellenbosch University for financial reasons. She started waitressing at various up-market wine estates to make some money to resume her studies.
In a statement released on Monday, she said: “I, together with my legal team, am confident that I gave the police enough evidence relating to the charges I brought against Marius Fransman. I am confused as to why they say there is not enough evidence.”