Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman, denying that he sexually assaulted a young woman during a road trip to the ANC birthday event in Rustenburg, has accused enemies within the party of setting him up.
Fransman said the 20-year-old woman had not been hired as his personal assistant, as she has claimed, "but to be part of our tourism drive that we are doing in the province".
Fransman said Boland ANC regional secretary Jonton Snyman - who was suspended in October last year over a separate issue - was responsible for trying to set up a honey trap.
Fransman said Snyman sent him a threatening text message last month accusing him of being "the biggest factionist" in the ANC and predicting he would be "the biggest embarrassment to the ANC" at the Rustenburg event.
Fransman said that just days after receiving the text message he had been approached by the young woman now accusing him of sexual assault. "There is no way that I can sexually assault a woman. There is definitely foul play."
Snyman, who was suspended from the party after a criminal case of insurance fraud was brought against him, denied Fransman's honey trap accusation.
But, he said, the party's provincial leader should know that "what you do in the night will come out in the light".
Snyman acknowledged sending Fransman text messages, calling himself "one of the victims of Fransman in the Western Cape".
"My message to him was not that he was going to be an embarrassment to the ANC but that he is an embarrassment with what happened."
The ANC's provincial executive met on Friday and said in a statement afterwards that it had referred the Fransman case to the party's integrity committee so that he could "be given an opportunity, in confidence, to give his side of the story without prejudicing other processes".
A source with direct knowledge of what happened at the meeting said the executive had split into two camps.
Fransman's supporters said the party should wait until criminal charges were laid against him before taking action. But others believed that Fransman should be suspended immediately because the allegations against him were harming the party's integrity.
The woman at the centre of the saga has alleged that she was forced to share a bed with Fransman when they made a stopover at a hotel in Kimberley. She told police he touched her inappropriately in the back of the vehicle during the trip, and rubbed himself against her when they shared a bed.