Bredasdorp - Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman used his speech at a memorial service for murdered Bredasdorp teenager Anene Booysen on Sunday to launch a scathing attack on two DA MECs.
His swipe at Community Safety MEC Dan Plato and a tirade against comments by Social Development MEC Albert Fritz prompted Bredasdorp’s DA mayor Linkin de Bruyn to walk out of the event, threatening to turn the occasion into a political spat and drawing outrage on Twitter from some commentators.
In a fiery speech, Fransman told the crowd that Bredasdorp was particularly affected by drug abuse, and turned on Plato: “Dan Plato is a criminal, he used taxpayers’ money to throw a party for gangsters… You can’t give money to gangsters and think it would solve the problem.”
Fransman urged the DA “to tell Zille” that he had been “disappointed to see Albert Fritz say that girls should not be walking around at 3am (and) that girls should be careful of what they wear”.
Earlier this week, Fritz told CapeTalk radio station: “We want to call on our young men and women to please ensure they don’t get into situations at 3am in the morning, where they place themselves in danger.
“We don’t mean to say to people they can’t walk around at 3am, but these are very different and difficult times. Please ensure that you are safe and go with people you can trust, who won’t hurt you.”
Fransman told the hundreds of people gathered at the Nelson Mandela Hall in the town: “If Fritz as a public figure in government makes such unbalanced utterances to place any form of blame on the victim for the heinous crime and side with the criminal against the victim, he is uninformed and condescending.
“He is also not only showing disrespect towards the victim, but towards the family and friends of the deceased too.”
Asked for comment late on Sunday, Fritz said he had been misunderstood.
“I never blamed the victim or her clothing. I have no issue with Marius Fransman. I said its a societal problem that we have,” he said. “The ANC should stop jumping on the bandwagon and look at the real problems.”
Plato declined to comment, saying he was not going to “use someone’s funeral to rectify this”.
Nomboniso Gasa, a researcher at the Council for Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) said the affair was ”not a good moment for Fransman”.
The DA’s youth federal media and publicity chairman, Reagan Allen, called on Fransman to retract and apologise.
“And suddenly the whole reason and meaning of the march is lost. Fransman has dishonoured the memory of Anene,” tweeted Chris Morley.
Glenda Nevill also shared her thoughts on the matter on Twitter: “Dear God, is Marius Fransman not the most inappropriate politician? Time and place for political bickering mister – not at Anene’s memorial.”
At the service, Cosatu’s Western Cape leader Tony Ehrenreich urged President Jacob Zuma to open a commission of inquiry into the brutal rape and murder of Anene Booysen.
“We share in the grief, its not only Bredasdorp where there are attacks. There is a crisis in South Africa… We must respond to the scourge and make sure that women and kids are safe,” he said. “Constant measures must be taken for it to end.
“One thing we know is that mothers don’t raise their sons to abuse. Where do they get it? We must put an end to it and teach boys and girls to have compassion for each other. Abuse must be stopped in our homes – we can’t have police on every street corner and we need to take our streets back.”
Anene Booysen’s mom and grandmother sat quietly in the front row of the hall at the service that was supported by hundreds of residents and community leaders from the ANC, DA, Cosatu and Cape Agulhas municipality.
Seventeen-year-old Booysen was brutally gang-raped and mutilated last week Saturday. She later died of her injuries.
Three men have been arrested in connection with the crime so far. One has appeared in court and two others are due to appear in court this morning.
After the memorial service residents marched to the local police station to hand over a memorandum “to confront the horror of sexual violence that leaves a bloody stain on our social fabric with the urgency that it deserves”.