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Albert Fritz resigns from DA after sexual misconduct probe, vows to take fight to court

Fritz resigned hours after DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille gave him 24 hours to give reasons why he should not be suspended. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ African News Agency(ANA)

Fritz resigned hours after DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille gave him 24 hours to give reasons why he should not be suspended. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ African News Agency(ANA)

Published Mar 2, 2022

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Cape Town - Western Cape Cape DA leader and suspended Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz has resigned from the party after an investigation had found merit in the sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Fritz resigned hours after DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille gave him 24 hours to give reasons why he should not be suspended from its caucus and party activities.

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Premier Alan Winde decided to fire Fritz from the provincial executive after he received a report from advocate Jennifer Williams who had conducted an investigation to test the veracity of several allegations that were made against him, and which led to his suspension as MEC last month. Winde said the investigation report was submitted to him on Sunday night.

“I have considered the content, and a meeting with Williams and our own legal team took place on Monday afternoon, where we discussed it and I sought further clarity,” he said.

He said that having gone through the report carefully, it was clear to him that Fritz was not a fit and proper person to hold any position in his executive council.

“He has therefore been removed, in line with the powers vested in me by the Constitution,” he said.

Fritz was suspended by Winde late last month following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Soon after his suspension four Western Cape government officials involved in the scandal were also suspended. Williams was then appointed as the independent legal counsel to conduct an external investigation.

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Winde said the independent investigation had found, on considering the totality of the evidence, that there was sufficient credibility in the allegations of sexual misconduct, and sufficient credibility in the allegations of alcohol abuse.

He said it also found that there was sufficient evidence of Fritz creating an environment that was conducive to sexual harassment or, alternatively, taking advantage of young women sexually.

Fritz denied all the allegations on the basis that the misconduct simply did not take place.

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He said that despite being promised an objective and fair investigation, his legal representatives were not present during the questioning of the complainants, nor was he ever provided with a copy of their respective affidavits, on which the premier based his findings.

“The upshot thereof was that I was expected to provide detailed exculpatory statements without seeing first-hand what the allegations actually were, and the extent thereof. This is tantamount to me being found guilty and having to prove my innocence without the courtesy of a complete charge sheet,” said Fritz.

He said Winde was placed in possession of a one-sided, untested version “that to this day I have not been able to access and therefore defend”.

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“I am presently engaging my legal counsel regarding taking Advocate Williams’ final report on review [to a] competent court as the process falls hopelessly short of the transparent process promised by the premier.”

GOOD Party secretary-general Brett Herron said that despite taking several pages to vent his anger, Winde had failed to account for appointing Fritz to his provincial “cabinet of integrity” in the first place.

Herron said he didn’t explain how Fritz’s misconduct was invisible to the lifestyle audits promised for members of his executive, how Fritz’s misconduct went unnoticed for a number of years – let alone how the DA saw fit to appoint Fritz as its interim provincial leader after the previous incumbent was exposed as a liar.

In a statement, the ANC in the Western Cape called on the provincial police commissioner to investigate whether Winde was concealing a criminal matter.

Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said that as previously indicated, to date no criminal cases had been registered with the police by the complainants.

Potelwa said that the SAPS, through its specialist investigators located within the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS), remained on hand to investigate should a criminal case/s be opened by the complainant/s.

“A criminal investigation in this regard requires the affected party (not a third party) to open a case,” she said.

She added that in as far as plans went by Williams to meet and share information with the provincial commissioner, the move was awaited by the police as it may assist with an inquiry that they initiated after several complaints on the matter.

Lucinda Evans, an anti-GBV activist and the executive director of Philisa Abafazi Bethu (Heal Our Women), said there was no justice after what Winde had done.

“There is no justice for the survivors. There is no justice for these women, and there’s no justice for us,” Evans said.

DA Women’s Network provincial chairperson Wendy Kaizer-Philander said the premier’s decision was a clear indication that the DA did not just conveniently sweep things under the carpet.

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