Winde may be impeding justice by handling Fritz's 'criminal matter in an administrative manner' - ANC

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Albert Fritz. (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)
Albert Fritz. (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)
  • The ANC in the Western Cape has written to the provincial police commissioner to ensure that allegations of sexual impropriety against Albert Fritz is criminally investigated.
  • The party's provincial communications head says Alan Winde may have been obstructing justice.
  • This, he says, as Winde seemingly did not refer sexual assault allegations to the police.

A former director of the Women's Legal Centre and advocate at the Cape Bar has been appointed as the independent external investigator into the sexual impropriety allegations against Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz.

Premier Alan Winde on Wednesday confirmed that Jennifer Williams had been appointed to conduct the probe.

This after the Legal Services Unit of the Western Cape government approached the State Attorney to request that independent legal counsel be appointed for the investigation into the veracity of the allegations against Fritz.

"I will communicate the outcome of the investigation and take such steps as may be necessary or appropriate upon its finalisation," Winde said.

READ | Suspended official in Albert Fritz's office claims to not know details of investigation against him

"I have full faith that this investigation will be conducted with the integrity that it deserves."

But the ANC in the Western Cape says it has written to the provincial police commissioner, saying Winde was dealing with a "criminal matter in an administrative manner".

According to the party, Winde – who on Tuesday confirmed he had been first made aware of the allegations in November last year and "immediately requested affidavits from the persons directly involved" – may have been obstructing justice by not referring the alleged crimes to the police.

Fritz, his spokesperson, Wade Seale, the head of the community safety ministry, David Abrahams, support officer Michael Kwaaiman and another official, Lazola Ndubela, have been suspended, pending the investigation.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde.

It is understood that the victims – most of them interns in Fritz's office and others involved in the Expanded Public Works Programme - implicated several colleagues who work in the ministry in alleged acts of grooming and intoxicating them before they were allegedly sexually abused.

Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC Anroux Marais has been appointed to act as Community Safety MEC, while Fritz, the DA's provincial leader, has asked his party bosses to allow him to step aside amid the furore.

Provincial ANC communications head Sifiso Mtsweni said he was particularly disturbed by the allegations against Fritz as he had been "afforded the role of protecting the communities in the province and creating safe environments, particularly for women and children".

He said Winde "sat on this information for some time in his attempt to manage the internal dynamics within the DA, and has today arrogated himself the role of being an investigator, prosecutor and judge".

"The revelations that are coming forward through victims of Mr Fritz's alleged heinous crimes paint a grim picture of gender-based violence and sexual offences which are of a criminal nature. Instead of Winde strictly adhering to the principle of the rule of law by ensuring that the appropriate law enforcement agencies deal with this matter, he is continuing to recklessly undermine the efforts to fight GBV through managing the internal politics in the DA."

"The ANC in the Western Cape will be approaching the police to open a case and calls on the provincial commissioner to ensure that this matter is given the necessary attention it deserves."

Winde had on Tuesday said the initial allegations were first brought to his attention "by a third party informally" on 23 November last year.

"I immediately requested affidavits from the persons directly involved, so that I could take action. Since that date, I have ensured that the complainants were afforded due care and empathy and that no pressure was placed on them, noting the nature of their complaints," he said.

READ | Alan Winde not yet in a position to lay criminal charges in Albert Fritz sexual assault scandal

"Earlier this month, I was informed that the complainants were now ready to hand over their affidavits. I met with them 11 days ago, accepted their accounts, and consulted with legal services on the next steps to take. In the interim, further individuals indicated that they would like to come forward too, and legal services took their accounts down."

He said he had sufficient information to immediately suspend Fritz following a meeting with the complainants and receiving legal advice.

Winde said the complainants, who approached him, have been informed that they have the option to lay criminal charges.

His spokesperson, Odette Cason, said the premier calls for "all parties to show care and due consideration to the best interests of the complainants, who have made specific requests for confidentiality".

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