‘Albert Fritz complainants will get my support if they go to police’: Winde
Suspended Western Cape community safety MEC Albert Fritz could be reported to the police if an independent investigator probing the saga recommends such a move, says premier Alan Winde.
Winde is yet to reveal the nature of the allegations levelled against Fritz, only describing them as “serious”. Media reports have linked Fritz to alleged sexual misconduct.
On Tuesday Winde said he was alerted to the allegations last year.
“Initial allegations related to this matter were first brought to my attention by a third party informally on November 23 2021,” he said.
“I immediately requested affidavits from the persons directly involved so I could take action. Since that date I have ensured the complainants were afforded due care and empathy and that no pressure was placed on them, noting the nature of their complaints.
“Earlier this month, I was informed the complainants were ready to hand over their affidavits. I met with them 11 days ago, accepted their accounts and consulted with legal services on the next steps to take.
“In the interim, further individuals indicated they would like to come forward too, and legal services took down their accounts.
“Following my meeting with the complainants, and after receiving legal advice, I felt I had sufficient information to immediately suspend the minister and request an independent investigation into this matter.
“It has caused me distress to learn that members of the media are making direct enquiries of several officials in the Western Cape government to ascertain the names of these complainants.
“The publication of their names, against their will, would be completely unacceptable, and the Western Cape government will take whatever action necessary to ensure it is prevented.
“These complainants have brought these allegations to me under the strictest of confidence. To publish their names, against their will, will only add to the very serious stress and anxiety they are feeling, and possibly deter others from coming forward in similar cases in future.”
He said his government was providing counselling to employees who needed support.
“The complainants who have approached me have been informed they have the option to lay criminal charges too, and any necessary support will be provided should they elect to do so,” said Winde.
“I am not in a position to lay criminal charges, but I cannot discount the prospect of this happening, should the investigation by this independent counsel result in advice indicating it is necessary or appropriate for me to do so.
“The wellbeing and protection of the complainants is a top concern. It should be all of ours too.”