SUNDAY TIMES - Fransman accuser: My life is in tatters
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Sunday Times News By NASHIRA DAVIDS and ANDRÉ JURGENS, 2016-03-13

Fransman accuser: My life is in tatters

The woman who laid a sexual harassment complaint against former ANC Western Cape chairman Marius Fransman.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

The woman who filed a complaint of sexual harassment against Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman has finally broken her silence, accusing the police of dragging their feet and saying her life is in tatters.

The 21-year-old from Stellenbosch has gone into hiding after fleeing from Rustenburg in North West, where she attended the ANC's 104th birthday celebrations with Fransman.

In an interview with the Sunday Times this week, she said she had dyed her hair, changed her cellphone numbers, moved out of home and cancelled her 21st birthday party.

The woman, who cannot be named, laid a complaint against Fransman at Sun City police station on January 6. The police had not been in contact since then, she said, and when she called they were "never available".

Fransman, who has stepped aside as ANC leader in the Western Cape, said this week that the case was part of an orchestrated strategy by a rival faction "to take me out at all costs".

"The past three months were one of the worst periods of my whole life. There was a massive emotional and psychological effect," he said.

Fransman insisted he was innocent and claimed the woman had been "used as an instrument".

The woman said she had initially been asked by the former deputy minister of international relations to work at a hotel in which he had an interest.

On January 4, she was told she would be travelling with Fransman and two of his friends to the ANC celebrations in Rustenburg.

Over several hours with the Sunday Times at a restaurant in the winelands, she told how her life had come to a standstill, weeping as she described the effects on her family.

Fransman and the woman refused to discuss details of what happened at the Flamingo Hotel in Kimberley where, according to her statement to the police, she was forced to share a bed with him. Both will offer their version of events if the case goes to court.

She told the Sunday Times she had been treated with disdain by officers at Sun City police station before a person she recognised as an acquaintance of Fransman arrived. She hid under a table then made a run for it, finally getting home 24 hours later.

The apparent lack of progress in the police investigation has left the alleged victim and the accused in limbo.

"My concern is largely the impact this whole saga has had on the ANC in the Western Cape. It puts us into a tremendously difficult situation for the elections. The question is, for whose political benefit is it?" said Fransman.

"I've maintained from the start that it was part of a plot. After weeks it became very clear to me that there is a strategy to take me out at all costs."

If you are 20 years old, trying to build a career and move forward, [and someone] offers you an opportunity of a lifetime you're going to take it

He said the strategy had not been initiated by the ANC's national leadership. Instead, Fransman blamed "a faction in the Western Cape that spent at least R10-million last year to take Fransman, Songezo [Mjongile] and others out as leaders of the province."

The woman said her life had changed dramatically.

"Basically what I've been doing is hiding inside all the time and covering up for my fiancé because media would go to his workplace as well," she said.

"Friends", she said, declining to disclose their identity, had come to the rescue, taken her to an undisclosed location, sent her for counselling and obtained the services of a lawyer.

Her 21st birthday party at a restaurant in Stellenbosch was cancelled on January 21.

It upsets the woman, who has had to put a budding music career on hold, to hear Fransman claim that she was part of a conspiracy to bring about his political demise.

"When would I have had time to be plotting against someone I didn't know in the first place? If you are 20 years old, trying to build a career and move forward, [and someone] offers you an opportunity of a lifetime you're going to take it."

Now she wants her day in court and wants other women in her position to follow her example rather than suffer in silence.

"I want to know why. Why did you do this when I told you not to? Now you made me do this to you when you just could have stopped. You could have listened. God gave us all free will. Why did you try to take mine away?"

Fransman is adamant that the truth will emerge once the ANC national executive committee and integrity committee have been "exposed to all the detail".

Turning to what he described as the "enemy within", he said: "They can continue trying to find more affidavits, find more people, run around promising people opportunities from a big fund. The problem is they leak like a sieve. People speak."

Police this week refused to comment on the case.