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Axed MEC Albert Fritz to challenge reports into allegations of sexual misconduct against him

Dismissed Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz continued to deny allegations of sexual misconduct, alcohol abuse and grooming and said he was liaising with his legal team to take the final report of allegations levelled against him, which informed his dismissal on review at a competent court. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

Dismissed Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz continued to deny allegations of sexual misconduct, alcohol abuse and grooming and said he was liaising with his legal team to take the final report of allegations levelled against him, which informed his dismissal on review at a competent court. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency

Published Mar 2, 2022

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CAPE TOWN - Axed Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz has hinted at legally challenging the damning report into allegations of sexual misconduct against young female staff members, saying the period of his suspension was a consequence of “political orchestration” to assassinate his character.

Almost immediately after Premier Winde announced that Fritz was dismissed with immediate effect, Fritz tendered his resignation from the DA yesterday citing that the process had fallen “hopelessly short of the transparent process promised by the Premier.”

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There were six complaints against him.

Winde said Fritz was “not a fit and proper person” to hold any position in his executive council as the report by Advocate Jennifer Williams found “sufficient credibility” to the allegations levelled against Fritz by a number of complainants who had been employed in his office.

The report noted that 18 witnesses were interviewed in total including the complainants, collateral witnesses, Fritz, and his own nominated witnesses.

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Williams stated: “The power differential favours Fritz due to his age, position of authority, political connections and gender. [He] appears to be oblivious to the power dynamics at play in his interactions with young female interns/staff…the selection of ‘victims’, the building of trust, the normalising of inappropriate sexually-charged interactions in a work related context, the taking of photographs of the young women and complimenting them on their appearance, the sexual comments, the unpredictable temper outbursts, and public humiliation of the ‘victims’ all have the hallmark of grooming…

“The availability of alcohol, the pressure [to] drink and removing young women from their comfort zone further enabled Fritz’s opportunities for sexual misconduct. It would seem that rather than protecting vulnerable young women from that risk, they were purposely placed in these inappropriate situations and exploited.”

Williams noted that the individual complainants’ versions were consistent, inherently probable and corroborated in material aspects.

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Winde had received the investigation report on Sunday evening.

Winde said he was “extremely angry” and deeply concerned that Fritz would not accept responsibility for his actions but instead resorted to “the tactic of victim-blaming” to impugn the investigation process.

Fritz had denied the allegations of sexual misconduct, alcohol abuse and grooming, said Winde who confirmed four complainants came to him with the allegations including two corroborators.

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“I am extremely angry at what appears to be verifiable incidences of serious sexual misconduct by him, in circumstances which in and of themselves were inappropriate. That it is by someone who has been tasked to protect our youth and our communities, is to me unfathomable,” said Winde.

He added that he would not be naming the complainants and that no formal criminal complaint has been lodged.

Fritz said he was now liaising with his legal team to take the final report on review at a competent court.

In a statement, Fritz said the last two months have been “extremely difficult” for him and his family.

“It is incomprehensible how the Premier could reach a ‘prima facie’ view in the comfort of his sanctum whilst relying simply on an investigator’s interpretation of unquestioned let alone unchallenged and selective reports made anonymously. I am however under no illusion the Premier Winde made this decision long before today. This is evidenced by the very nature of his previous communications,” Fritz said.

He said he denied all the allegations on the basis that the alleged misconduct simply did not take place.

“Despite being promised an objective and fair investigation my legal representatives were not present during the questioning of the complainants nor was I 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 guilty and having to prove my innocence without the courtesy of a complete charge sheet.”

Fritz said his legal representative had requested Winde to provide him with the final report by close of business yesterday, but Winde refused to accede to this request

“I shall therefore at a later stage offer a more detailed response to the specific allegations levelled against. The accusers have been permitted to hide behind the shield of anonymity and the wholly inadequate investigation whilst my name has been publicly besmirched,” he said.

Meanwhile provincial political parties have welcomed Fritz’ dismissal.

Anroux Marais continues to act as the MEC for Community Safety MEC while Winde is expected to announce Fritz’s replacement in the coming weeks.

Cape Times

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