Cape Town - Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has suggested that more individuals have indicated that they would like to come forward in connection with the serious allegations made against provincial MEC Albert Fritz.
Winde further noted that it has caused him immense distress to learn that members of the media are making direct enquiries of several officials in the Western Cape Government in order to ascertain the names of these complainants.
As it stands, young employees, believed to be interns, who had worked in Fritz’s office had apparently come forward to shed light on the allegations, which relate to sexual assault of his own staff and which dates back to last year.
According to a media report, four more provincial government officials who were working alongside Fritz, have been suspended in connection with the scandal.
While Winde never made use of the term “sexual assault allegations”, he said the publication of their names, against their will, would be completely unacceptable, and the provincial government would take whatever action necessary to ensure it is prevented.
He highlighted that initial allegations related to this matter were first brought to his attention by a third party informally on November 23, 2021.
“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.
“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. Following my meeting with the complainants, and after receiving legal advice, I felt I had sufficient information to immediately suspend the MEC and request an independent investigation into this matter,” Winde said.
The premier is being assisted by the legal services unit of the Western Cape Government, which has approached the State Attorney, instructing them that independent legal counsel be appointed to conduct an external investigation into the veracity of the allegations made against the MEC.
“We are currently awaiting confirmation from the State Attorney on the instruction, which we expect to receive imminently. I will provide the details of the appointee once confirmed,” Winde said.
“Due to the serious nature of the allegations, it is my belief that an independent legal expert with relevant experience is best placed to investigate these allegations and determining their veracity. It has been my request that the investigation be finalised as quickly as possible.
“I can confirm that, in the interest of transparency, I will release further details on this matter once the external investigator has been appointed, and after consultation with him/her as to what can be mentioned, given the requests of the complainants involved,” he said.
He said counselling services are being provided through the provincial government to individuals who request support. “The complainants who have approached me have been informed that they have the option to lay criminal charges too, and that any necessary support will be provided to them should they elect to do so.
“I am not in a position to lay criminal charges currently, but I cannot discount the prospect of this happening, should the investigation by this independent counsel result in advice indicating that it is necessary or appropriate for me to do so,” Winde said.