The alleged victims of suspended Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz, who faces allegations of sexual misconduct, were reportedly recruited from among young Democratic Alliance (DA) members in Mitchells Plain.
The Sunday Times reported that Fritz allegedly “bombarded” the young women with late-night messages asking them to come to his room during out-of-town trips while on government or DA business.
The Good party’s secretary-general Brett Herron, a former DA member, told the Sunday Times he had evidence in his possession – including WhatsApp messages – which allegedly showed Fritz was using his position in government to take sexual advantage of vulnerable young interns and job seekers.
Herron said he received the information in 2019, almost a year after he left the DA.
This was after he was reportedly approached by an intermediary seeking assistance for a group of young women who were victims of Fritz’s alleged predatory sexual behaviour.
Herron said the information and WhatsApp messages he received “show that there are allegations of sexual misconduct and they relate to the period during which Fritz was the MEC for social development.”
Herron said he knew of at least five alleged victims who seemed to have been recruited from among young DA members in Mitchells Plain.
“Several of Fritz’s victims appear to have been recruited from the ranks of young DA members and supporters in a particular area of Mitchells Plain. Fritz has been the DA’s constituency head in Mitchells Plain,” he was quoted as saying.
Herron told the paper he had been unable to act on the information he received because the women allegedly changed their minds and declined to meet him because they “feared the impact of the scandal on their lives and jobs”.
But now that Fritz has been suspended, he said he would hand the evidence to police “once an investigation has been mounted”.
Police open inquiry
On Thursday, police in the Western Cape said they had opened an inquiry into the sexual assault allegations against Fritz.
The inquiry was opened while police wait for “key pertinent documentation” before a case could be registered.
At the same time, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde on Wednesday announced Advocate Jennifer Williams had been appointed by the State Attorney as an independent legal counsel to investigate sexual misconduct allegations against Fritz.
Winde committed to publicly release the findings of the investigation once it was concluded.
The premier said the initial allegations against Fritz, which he has not revealed to the public, were first brought to his attention by a third party informally on 23 November 2021.
He said he immediately requested affidavits from the persons directly involved and ensured the complainants were “afforded due care and empathy and that no pressure was placed on them, noting the nature of their complaints.”
The premier did not rule out the possibility of laying criminal charges against the MEC once the investigation is done.
He said the complainants who approached him were also informed that they had the option to lay criminal charges too.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe