Cape Town - While noting that the case has not been registered yet, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde says he supports the investigation into one of the provincial government’s most senior members, MEC Albert Fritz.
Allegations suggest that Fritz, who previously served as social development MEC, allegedly sexually assaulted young women in his office.
He withdrew from his position as DA provincial leader on Monday following his suspension the previous day.
Four other employees have also apparently been suspended in connection with the matter which Winde has referred to as “serious allegations”.
Advocate Jennifer Williams has been appointed to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations.
On Thursday afternoon Winde said: “I also fully support the SAPS’s reminder that their doors remain open to the complainants. I have echoed this call to the complainants directly and note that it remains their choice to lay charges – one in which we must all respect.
“In addition to advising the complainants of their rights to lay criminal charges, we are also referring complainants to an NGO dedicated to the assistance of complainants of the nature in question, having received confirmation from such NGO that such a referral would be appropriate and may proceed. This will ensure that every person who complains to my office is treated with sensitivity both within the investigation that I have initiated to determine Minister Fritz’s continued cabinet appointment, and in respect of any criminal or civil claim that the complainant in question may wish to pursue themselves,” Winde said.
The premier met Williams on Thursday to provide the details which were brought to his attention by several complainants, in the strictest of confidence. “I will also provide her with the details around the actions I have taken to date. This information should then enable her to begin her investigation immediately,” Winde said.
Brigadier Novela Potelwa, spokesperson for provincial police commissioner Thembisile Patekile, confirmed police opened an inquiry into sexual assault allegations against the MEC while they wait for pertinent documentation before a case is registered.
In the letter to the provincial commissioner, the provincial ANC requested his office to launch an inquiry into this matter to investigate whether the allegations themselves amount to criminal conduct or not and second to inform those who have lodged complaints to the premier about the manner in which the SAPS can provide both counselling and assurances of absolute confidentiality should they come forward.
“We welcome that wholeheartedly, the commissioner has responded positively to our letter into this matter,” provincial ANC spokesperson Sifiso Mtsweni said.