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Western Cape MEC Albert Fritz’s suspension sparks row between ANC and DA

26 January 2022 - 12:42
Western Cape community safety MEC Albert Fritz has been placed on suspension. File photo.
Western Cape community safety MEC Albert Fritz has been placed on suspension. File photo.
Image: Philani Nombembe

The DA has scoffed at the ANC’s call for Western Cape community safety MEC Albert Fritz’s suspension to be discussed in the National Council of Provinces.

Premier Alan Winde suspended Fritz on Sunday after “serious allegations pertaining to the conduct of minister Albert Fritz were brought to my attention”.

He did not reveal the allegations, but media reports claimed they relate to sexual misconduct. Fritz subsequently stepped down as provincial leader of the DA.

“I have summoned the minister and informed him of these allegations, as well as my decision to suspend him with immediate effect, which he has accepted,” Winde said.

“I have initiated a full investigation which must proceed on an unhindered basis. Minister Fritz has offered his full co-operation in this investigation.”

On Wednesday, ANC provincial executive committee member Sifiso Mtsweni said “the DA harbours within its ranks sex pests and sex offenders, including perpetrators of gender- based violence (GBV)”. He accused the DA of protecting Fritz.

“What is particularly disturbing in this case is that Mr Fritz has been accorded the role of protecting the communities in the province and creating safe conducive environments, particularly for women and children,” Mtsweni said.

“Instead of playing this role effectively, he is alleged to be a perpetrator of sexually molesting women in exchange for work and other favours.

“The premier of the province, who has sat on this information for some time in his quest to manage internal dynamics within the DA, has today arrogated himself the role of being an investigator, prosecutor and judge.

“Instead of Winde strictly adhering to the principles of the rule of law by ensuring appropriate law enforcement agencies deal with this matter, he continues to recklessly undermine the efforts to fight GBV through managing internal politics in the DA.”

Mtsweni said the party would report Fritz to the police.

Reagen Allen, DA Western Cape spokesperson on community safety, dismissed the ANC’s comments as opportunistic.

“The ANC in the Western Cape has taken the suspension of minister Albert Fritz and turned it into a spectacle, forgetting there are real people involved in the situation,” said Allen.

“Rather than respecting the request for confidentiality of whistle-blowers and despite the fact that the investigation is ongoing, the ANC has requested the matter be played out on a national platform in the National Council of Provinces, even though this is not within their mandate.

“The ANC’s opportunistic attempt to throw mud at the DA may, unintentionally, cause harm and distress for those involved. The allegations are of a serious and deeply personal nature. Protecting the dignity of all those involved is non-negotiable.

“In the interest of a fair and unprejudiced investigation, it is premature and irresponsible to call for a full account on the matter as the facts are being established.

“I would call on the ANC in the Western Cape and all opposition parties to show some restraint and patience while the matter is investigated. Following due process and respecting the request for confidentiality ensures the integrity of the findings.

“Once the investigation has taken place, the standing committee will call before it the premier to account for the decisions taken.”

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