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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

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DA could lay charges against suspended MEC Albert Fritz over sexual assault allegations

Suspended Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Suspended Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Jan 29, 2022


Johannesburg - Pressure is mounting on the police to act against suspended Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz, who is accused of sexually assaulting some of his junior staff.

While the ANC and later its Women’s League have added to the pressure on the police, DA leader John Steenhuisen has entered the fray

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Steenhuisen told the media that his party would be first in line to lay criminal charges against Fritz.

Steenhuisen said the DA supported any inquiry by the police and the Western Cape government into the allegations of misconduct levelled against Fritz.

Western Cape premier Alan Winde, who suspended Fritz at the weekend, has appointed a lawyer via the State Attorney to investigate the allegations.

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Fritz has also temporarily stepped down as interim leader in the province, pending the investigation into the allegations made against him.

Fritz is accused of sexual assault involving several women employed in his office.

Steenhuisen said his party took the allegations seriously.

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"If there's any wrongdoing from any member of the Democratic Alliance (DA), it doesn't matter whether you're the federal leader of the party, we hold ourselves to a very high standard. We will be the first to lay charges. You must understand, at this stage, that these are allegations and remain to be tested, so we welcome any investigation, whether it's an independent investigation or an investigation by the SAPS, and we look forward to the outcome of those so that we can bring the matter to finality," Steenhuisen said.

The police investigation – and possible criminal charges against Fritz – appear set to run concurrently with the independent investigation by advocate Jennifer Williams, who was asked by Winde to probe the claims against the MEC.

According to media reports, four provincial government officials who were working alongside Fritz have been suspended in connection with the scandal.

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After the appointment of Williams, Winde said: “I will communicate the outcome of the investigation and take such steps as may be necessary or appropriate upon its finalisation.

“I have full faith that this investigation will be conducted with the integrity that it deserves,” Winde said.

The ANC have sent a letter to the Western Cape Provincial Commissioner of Police, Lieutenant General Thembisile Patekile, asking her to rally her officers to act against Fritz and Winde.

Western Cape ANC spokesperson Sifiso Mtsweni said the party wanted the affidavits of the victims – which were handed to the government investigators – to be handed over to the police for their investigation.

“Now that it has emerged that this is based on what we categorise as GBV and sexual assault and harassment, the problem now is that the premier is in possession of the affidavits – he is a prosecutor, he is an initiator and he is a judge.

"He is now the one that decides what must happen, and we are of the view that is a police matter now that victims have come forward,” Mtsweni said.

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Political Bureau