“I am innocent”- suspended employee who worked under Fritz breaks silence

An official who worked under fired MEC Albert Fritz has broken his silence. AYANDA NDAMANE African News Agency (ANA)

An official who worked under fired MEC Albert Fritz has broken his silence. AYANDA NDAMANE African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 20, 2022


Cape Town - A former Western Cape Government (WCG) official who was placed on precautionary suspension for his alleged involvement in former Community and Safety MEC Albert Fritz’s sexual misconduct case, has broken his self-imposed silence.

Lazola Ndubela was suspended with three others for their alleged involvement in facilitating the alleged sexual harassment misconduct by fired Fritz. Those suspended included Fritz’s spokesperson Wade Seale, David Abrahams, and support officer Michael Kwaaiman.

Abrahams and Kwaaiman were dismissed following an internal investigation.

In a statement, Ndubela said after the internal investigations, the WCG had found no evidence of wrongdoing against him.

“A grave injustice has been perpetrated against me in a politicised matter,” he said. “My name has been dragged through the mud for no reason.

At this stage, it goes without saying, but I wish to say it anyway and in no uncertain terms: I have never been involved in the facilitation of sexual misconduct by anybody, in any way whatsoever.”

Ndubela said it had always been his intention to cooperate with the investigation and to answer any questions posed to him but he was still in the dark about the charges against him. He said he was never given a chance to clear his name.

“Unfortunately, the WCG has never posed any questions to me at any point. The WCG has never put allegations to me and asked me to give my version of events. To date, I have never been informed of the allegations against me. Nor have I been informed of who the allegations were made by.”

Ndubela worked with Fritz for six years. He started as an intern then offered a contract as an official in his office at Social Development and later Community Safety.

He said over the past few months, he had been requesting updates on the investigation, only to get a response at the beginning of the month that the WCG would no longer be pursuing any disciplinary action because his suspension automatically terminated as his contract of employment came to an end.

“Putting to one side the merits of the allegations against Fritz, if one considers my inclusion in this saga, it should be clear that politics had influenced the manner in which this matter was handled. One need only recall the way in which pieces of information were being leaked to the media strategically to “keep the story alive” in the first weeks following the breaking of this saga.”

Ndubela expressed disappointment with his bosses who he said presented themselves as approachable while he was working at the WCG.

“As I now pick up the pieces and look for new employment, it would be reasonable to suspect that a potential employer might ask about the way in which my name was dragged through the mud because of the way this matter was handled. I have written to WCG simply requesting a letter confirming that no evidence of wrongdoing has been found against me. They simply refused my request.”

Fritz was fired in March after an investigative report found that there was sufficient evidence of him creating an environment that was conducive to sexual harassment, or alternatively, taking advantage of young women sexually.

Good Party secretary-general Brett Herron, said the statement from Ndubela was not surprising as the DA had a habit of “weaponising” allegations to eliminate members they no longer needed.

“Allegations are similarly weaponised by ANC factions as we have been exposed to yet again, recently. From the information available to me I am confident that there are grounds for an investigation into Albert Fritz.

“But the investigation should focus, mostly, on his time as the MEC for Social Development where he spent eight years as MEC and where the department needs to explain the placement of young women in jobs in Child & Youth Care Centres.”

He added that the Social Development department was headed by a DA cadre - who was Helen Zille’s speech writer when she was mayor of Cape Town and moved with her to the province in 2009. “The only reason why they would be refusing to expand the investigation, if there is one, would be because they do not want to touch a member of the DA inner circle.

“This makes the campaign to eliminate GBV and sexual harassment a mockery because the evidence was used entirely for political purposes and not to stop the practice, the victimization or the facilitation by provincial employees,” Herron said.

Questions were sent to Premier Alan Winde who was spearheading the investigations into the Fritz saga. His office directed the questions to the office of Community Safety and Police oversight. The office said they will respond later today.